Chindogu is the art of creating almost useless objects. That is, an invention that at first seems like a great idea, but, upon further reflection, reveals itself as more trouble than it’s worth. For examples, check out the Internation Chindogu Society, where you can find such speciments as the backscratcher’s t-shirt and the portable crosswalk.

Here’s one I just came up with: a tiny toilet roll dispenser, about an 1.5″ across, and paper rolls of a corresponding size. This would be mounted next to your sink. Then, after shaving, a gentleman can tear off tiny 1″ x 1″ squares of tissue to apply to his various cuts and nicks.

If the idea of chindogu appeals to you, I simply cannot recommend 101 Unuseless Japanese Inventions : The Art of Chindogu too highly.


Googlewhacking. The goal: try and find two common words which, when entered into Google (as separate words, not as a phrase), result in only one page. Then calculate your score: the number of hits the first word generates alone times the number of hits the second generates alone.

Even though Tautological Croutons earns me a superior score of 1,230,040,000, I still think the 878,490,000-point Parabolic Capibara is a better name for a band.

Demons. Plus: Kitties.

All things considered, I think I’d rather be vilified than demonized. Being a demon could sometimes be a drag — what with living in Hell and all — but being a villain seems like a win-win proposition.

And while we’re on the subject of Hell, here’s some kitties.

Movies: City of Lost Children

Upon seeing the delightful Amelie, and having fond memories of the bizarre Delicatessen, I decided I was going to watch each and every film directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Luckily, this is an entirely achievable goal: aside from those mentioned above, he only has two other major motion pictures under his belt. One of them is The City of Lost Children, which I spent yesterday evening enjoying.

My review in a nutshell: <low whistle>. That there is one fine movie. The plot centers around a Frankensteinian monster who kidnaps children and siphons off their dreams for his own amusement. The problem: kidnaped children tend to only have nightmares, so our antagonist never gets the beautiful dreams he’s searching for. But this plot is little more than an excuse to string together two-hours of breathtaking visuals and neato special-effects. Midgets, clones, strongmen, trained fleas, de-bodied brains and large machines with large red levers — this movie’s got it all. For sheer hallucinogenic hijinks, The City of Lost Children ranks up there with best of Terry Gillium, Tim Burton, and David Lynch.

Now all I have to do is see Jeunet’s other film. Which, unfortunately, turns out to be Alien 4: Resurrection. Wish me luck.

Harry Potter Barroom Brawl

So a buddy and mine were in a bar and doing all the things guys do in bars — drinking beer, and tilting our heads so as to keep the college girls in our peripheral vision, and, of course, talking about Harry Potter — when my buddy claimed that whatshername, J. J. Rawling or whatever, had already finished writing the last book in the series. And I said dude, you must be stoned because that’s so not true, and then he said no, dude, you must be stoned because it’s totally true, and then I said he was a lying drunken so-and-so, and then … well, you know how these Harry Potter discussions go.

Anyhoo, I finally got around to looking up this outrageous claim, and I found out that he was actually kind of right. Rawling has, in fact, written the end of the final book. But that’s all she’s written of book seven — the last chapter — and she’s written nary a word of book six. Nary!

But since he was vaguely right, I now feel honor-bound to apologize to my buddy, here on a weblog that I’m certain he’ll never see. So, Larry, about getting all up in your face about the Potter thing, and, y’know, breaking your pinky and stuff: I’m sorry. However, when you realize that I was right in regards to our other discussion of that evening (i.e. my assertion that Blink 182 is the greatest band of all time), I’ll expect you to be equally contrite.

Movies: Gosford Park

Last week I mentioned seeing In The Bedroom, a film which would have been great had it not seemed like two different movies clumsily glue-sticked together. It’s a drama for the first three-fifth, and then it has some kinda mid-life crisis and decides that, no, what I really wants to be is a thriller. The end result is that it doesn’t entirely succeed at either.

A few days ago I saw Gosford Park, and I have the exact same complaint: it’s like a two-hour treatise on class relations wrapped around an unrelated one-hour murder mystery. (It’s not actually three-hours long, mind you, but it feels like it). People: if you have a good idea for a movie, make a movie; if you have two good ideas for a movie, make two movies. Is that really so hard?

That said, I’d still give it a seven.

Bloody Mary

I finally took Rebecca Blood’s advice and read this fantastic article about the secret stories of homeless children. (It’s simply too long to be read on a monitor, so print it out and read it at your leisure.) In these stories, God has fled the battlefield of our world, leaving His angels to wage a losing battle against Satan and the dreaded Bloody Mary.

It occurred to me later that I had heard tell of this Bloody Mary before, in a This American Life episode entitled Notes From Camp. (Mary shows up about a third of the way into the program, during the section on ghost stories.) In fact, a little research shows that Ms. Mary is everywhere, if you know where to look. This Mythology Web article, for example, compares dozens of variations on this most unsettling legend about the face in the mirror.

Mmm Mmm Tacos

Peter and I are walking into an All-You-Can-Eat Mexican restaurant for lunch. I have never patronized this joint before, and others have told me about its enormous and bountiful taco bar. But even forewarned, when I see this vision of tacoie goodness with my own two eyes I stop dead in my tracks and exclaim “Holy Moly!”

“I believe the correct pronunciation,” Peter says, “is Holy Mol