I wouldn’t describe myself as a particularly spiritual person, but by the other side of the same token I would neither call myself overly materialistic. With this disclaimer in hand and just as quickly out of my hand, in the company of pigs in pokes and cats out of bags, I want to share a deep, dark secret with you, my devoted, beloved, Dear Reader(s).

Sometimes, in my lowest hours, I know, I just know, gripped in the surety of despair, that possessing a certain item will bring limitless  joy to my poor, impoverished existence. More often than not, the item is the same thing, recurring in my visions and haunting my adumbrant days. What could this most fabulous of objects (apologies to Time Bandits) be, you ask? Some splendiferous jewel? A sportscar so sexy one needs to reenact childbirth in reverse just to get inside it? A housecat who can clean her own litterbox,  run the coffee machine and make fabu martinis? No, none of those. (more…)

Natawurly is going to tan my hide. First I impinge on her candy fetish with posts about chewing gum and jordan almonds, now I ‘m venturing into her newest territory, books.

I’ve been living a bit of a cloistered life lately and have consequently and uncharacteristically not been haunting bookstores as is my wont. Imagine my surprise then, while waiting for a prescription to be filled today, I wandered over to the “literature” section of the store and saw a completely new phenomenon.

No, I’m not referring to the Twilight books being shelved with normal ones. After all, this is the kind of store where fake books thrive and real books cower at the innermost reaches of the shelves, where a rarity like Brave New World is displayed in the “inspirational” section. I’m talking about a bonafide and –forgive the pun– novel development: the new, improved mass market paperback.


Of the many topics I try to avoid discussing in this blog, chief among them is religion. I find it generally too controversial, which is only exacerbated by my minority, non-conformist views on the subject; it’s just more trouble than it’s worth, in my opinion. (I just searched the blog and the sole previous invocation, “Yuletidying-up,” came last month during the Christmas Blitz.)

Nevertheless, I was struck by an idea that I just had to share. If I were savvy, it’s potentially even a lucrative enterprise. Admittedly, this brainstorm isn’t particularly religious in nature; it just uses as a touchstone a secular version of an aspect of one religion.

In Judaism, a mitzvah is (1) any of the collection of 613 commandments or precepts in the Bible and additional ones of rabbinic origin that relate chiefly to the religious and moral conduct of Jews.¹ A mitzvah is also (2) a meritorious or charitable act.² The word is most commonly known from the phrases bar/bat/bas mitzvah, which is an initiatory rite into adulthood.

The second, more ecumenical sense is the one I have in mind for this proposal. Ready? Here it is: The Mitzvah Bar: an establishment where one is discouraged from paying for one’s own drinks and food. Instead, such niceties should only be accomplished through the magnanimity of others, either your companions or, preferably, strangers. Although there might be some technical snags in getting such a system to operate fluidly, I believe it could make for a rather congenial atmosphere and a popular establishment. Or a whole lot of fistfights.

As a nod to the gimmicky underpinnings of the conceit, some Kosher wines could be available and other products such as He’Brew (“The Chosen Beer,” produced by the Shmaltz Brewing Company) would be on hand. I don’t even know if there’s such a thing as Kosher booze, but there could be some of that in the place, too.

Incidentally, I used a number of web search engines to look up the phrase “mitzvah bar” and, can you believe it, I found  zero results (aside from the two words separated by commas or semicolons or in repitition, i.e. none with the phrase’s intentional transpositionary sense)!


On a related note, Ironic Sans wrote on his blog last June about his idea for a techie pub called The Progress Bar.

¹ Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc.  (accessed: 27 January 2009).
² Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Merriam-Webster Online. (accessed: 27 January 2009).

(I think) most people envision their dream house to be something out of a Condé Nast publication: some pretty-as-a-pin Victorian restoration, something sleek and modern, some Colonial behemoth that Martha Stewart would give her right leg (or whichever’s the one with the house arrest bracelet) to own, something with jaw-dropping views of a natural vista, some luxe penthouse in the sky.

My wants are much more modest. Although a lot of those appeal to me and I probably wouldn’t turn any of them down, except maybe the Colonial behemoth, I’d require just two things: well-designed closets and transparent appliances. Yes, transparent appliances! Dishwashers, refrigerators, ovens, washer/dryers, all that stuff. For the longest time I’ve had this desire.

Sometimes you see transparent versions of these devices as demonstration models, but I’d go gaga if I could actually own durable, working ones. (more…)

I’m in the midst of sporadically typing up the second installment of my personal history of two-wheeled mishaps, but thought it’d be nice to insert a brief post.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the retail chain Design Within Reach. They have stores- excuse me, studios– in 25 states, the District of Columbia, and two Canadian provinces. Specializing in mid-century classics of furniture and decor by such design luminaries as Eames, Le Corbusier, Noguchi and Saarinen, DWR aims to make officially-licensed reproductions affordable (a relative term, assuredly) to the Not-Particularly-Great-and-More-or-Less-Washed.

The stor studios all have a similar design. Here are a few photographs of different locations:


Now, here’s the thing. Every time I see one of these stor locati studi establishments, I can’t help but picture myself (or some other chump) gamely leaping up, arm outstretched, trying in vain to reach the sign/logo/banner which is at least 10 feet off the ground. Grumble, grumble.

[link]… for potential topic infringement.

nb: This post was extracted and expanded from an forthcoming ancillary “about me” type page of random facts. It soon grew too large to fit comfortably into a bulleted list, so I’m giving it a battlefield promotion to Full Post. Poor guy; it’s a suicide mission.

I have boycotted M&M’s since the “blue” vote fiasco of 1995. To recap: those sneaky Martian devils offered three choices (pink, blue, and purple) without making it explicit that the new color was to replace the best color of all: tan.

The least they could have done was include good old tan in the race! After the results were in and blue usurped tan, I took the drastic step of writing to the company suggesting that they do a tie-in with The Gap, who at the time had an ongoing khakis campaign: M&M’s Khakis. Imagine, Dear Reader(s), a packet consisting entirely of tan M&M’s!  What a beautiful thing that would have been!

Sadly, my entreaty fell on deaf ears. To make matters worse, they had another vote in 2002 for a limited-run additional color. This time the choices were pink, aqua, and purple. Aqua?!? No beige. It was simply beyond the pale.

Mind you, all this was before the days of the hyper-customized “My M&M’s,” introduced in 2006.

So, in conclusion, they won’t be not melting in my hand anytime soon; they can melt in Hell for all I care!

What about you? Any candy-related peeves? I hope you brought enough to share with everyone.

So here’s an idea I came up with. It’s a design thing for a car, involving the famous Benham’s Disk optical illusion. What’s that, you say? You’ve never heard of the famous Benham’s Disk optical illusion? Well, I bet you’ve seen it at some point in your life, just didn’t know that it had a name, or or if you did suspect that it had a name, never found out or never bothered to try to find out what it is.

Let’s play a round of Pin the Title on the Dingus. The famous Benham’s Disk optical illusion, sometimes called (the less famous thus intensely jealous) Benham’s Top; It’s a pattern in which a circle is half black and the other half is white with some bold black areas in a quasi-regular pattern. Sounding familiar?

black & white cookies

Well, yes, it does look something like one of those. But not exactly, and considerably less tasty. In fact, it looks like this in its most common version:

benham's disk

Oh yes, that. I knew you’d recognize it. The way it goes is like this: around and around. And when it rotates, depending on the combination of its speed and direction, the mechanics of your eyes, and the neural workings of your brain, you will perceive some desaturated colors. Nothing vividly earth-shattering, but entertaining nonetheless. I found a very nice interactive version at the ProcreoFlashDesign site. I recommend Pattern 01 with the “Rogo” off.

What does this have to do with automobiles? Well, if your car is playful enough, it would be neat if the hubcaps or wheels were Blenham’s Disks. Well, I think it would be neat, anyway. And it’s my blog. Nyeh redux. So which car is playful enough? Currently, I’d have to say a Mini-Cooper or a SmartCar.

If I were really blog-proficient, I would animate those wheels. Thought about simulating the effect, but since it’s slightly different for each person, I decided it wasn’t worth the effort.

Very happy motoring!