Once, we received a message on voice mail “related to a drawing you entered at Storyland.” My wife retrieved the message and alerted me that it was something about a crooked house. Yes, yes, I recalled that particular sweepstakes! This wasn’t just any old crooked house; it was a whimsical child’s play house, well-built of wood framing and siding, and crooked in a comical way, which would be enormously interesting to my children for about half an hour, and then would just take up a huge chunk of my very limited yard space. But I called back anyway because I win drawings as frequently as everyone else does. Why not see if I won this one and then decline the offer (but take the money!)? The guy I was supposed to speak to had left for the day. I asked his colleague if I’d won something; she was suspiciously evasive on this point. She was also evasive on the name of the outfit that was paying her and her colleague to dial me up. A few more questions revealed that they were trying to sell me a vacation time-share, having used the crooked house random drawing scheme to lure me in and obtain my phone number. Over the ensuing days, I received more messages on voice-mail, the final one claiming to be “your last chance” (at what?). Eventually the calls stopped altogether. So, no crooked child’s play house, but as I note to myself more often that I care to, who needs one of those when you already have a full size crooked house to play in?
What I’m developing here is a concept, not an actual product. The concept grew out of a need I had for a new soap dish for the utility sink in the basement of my home. I found what appeared (to my admittedly inexperienced eye) to be an old ceramic dish. I examined the object carefully: yes, indeed, it was a dish. I gently stroked it’s cracked surface with my fingertips, wondering what wonders the object might tell of times gone by if given a voice; perhaps it might say, “I used to be a soap dish, and wish to be a soap dish once again!” Inspirational, no? This has led me to hire lawyers to sue the bejesus out of any of you who try to steal my concept of re-using old things in the basements of homes, where you don’t really need high-end home goods. No, I haven’t obtained a re-usage patent for this idea I have, but I’m working on that feverishly.
While a well-tended yard suggests tranquility to the casual observer, the homeowner sees it as a battlefield. Devilish weeds grow freely in the dusty cracks of the front walk, even when there is no rain; behind the garage, where past owners have dumped chunky remnants of a front stoop from the 1950s, an evil plant of some thorny variety slumbers in the cooler months, then springs to life in June and grows barbed tentacles to tear at the skin around your ankles; in the vegetable garden, an aptly named “yucca plant” emerges each year to vie for real estate with the tomatoes, despite regular attempts to evict it with a spade.
With last week’s bombings and firefights still fresh in the mind, the battle-weary gardener inside me was happy to encounter the sight of daffodils sprouting at Pinebanks Field in Jamaica Plain in the shape of a peace sign. Pretty and uplifting, this small gesture by some unknown volunteer(s) reminds me to enjoy the relative calm, if only for long enough to snap a picture before continuing on my bike ride to work.
To the average observer, this will appear to be a tasting competition intended to market tomatoey condiment; only true sophisticates will realize it is actual art! The plan is to design pairs of glass cylinders 40 feet high, filling one tube of each with ketchup, and the other with catsup. I’m thinking about 1,500 or so pairs. At precisely the same moment each hour, the cylinders will expel exactly one ounce of ketchup and one ounce of catsup. Precision here is a must! The tubes are 40 feet high and contain exactly 1,440 ounces of ketchup, and 1,440 of catsup. This means each pair of cylinders can expel their product in exact one-ounce increments, 24 hours a day, for exactly 60 days. (Hence the need for precision).
Visitors to the interactive art piece, which is going to start on February 1st of 2016 (a leap year) and end on March 31st, will have the opportunity to sample the expelled condiment. They can choose to taste the product using either little compostable plastic spoons that I will design, or an artisanal cracker (which I will also design). Then, they’ll be asked a series of questions by a computer program that reads facial expressions and selects from a bank of questions (“Which do you prefer, the ketchup or the catsup?”; “Which has better color?”; “Did it occur to you that we might have poisoned the condiment for the sake of art?”, and so forth.)
First task: Get cracker designing software. Either that, or design cracker designing software. Without the right software, I’ll have to design a cracker using graph paper, which isn’t easy to do. Next, I’ll need a large hangar in which to present the work. I’m determined to do this over the course of the specific two months of February and March, 2016. Look, I’ve already done the math for 40 foot high tubes that contain 1,440 ounces of condiment and don’t want to do more math because the cylinders can only be 10 feet high or something.
Finally, I’ll need to acquire a large supply of condiment.