Back in the 80s, the Boorum and Pease record book was my choice of journals. I think I picked up my first one because my Mom and Dad, being Eisenhower era folks, used them for keeping track of finances, expenses, and so on. They served their purpose, though the paper was only slightly thicker than onion skin, and the page count (144) was paltry. I still like how slim and stackable they are though, and their retro look is classic (standing in a row, those red spines look smarter than a bland, shiny black field of Moleskines). I liked the bumpy feel of the covers as well.

Sorry, Kane

I guess this qualifies as a bootleg toy. Alien-inspired Whac-a-Mole game in a pizza place (Giovanni’s) in International Falls, MN. Actually, this is awesome.

Added bonus: Bizarre art from a spider-stomping game. Same principle as Whac-a-Mole, kind of, except you use your feet.

I Collect Soda Pop Bottles

My latest acquisitions from a neat little antique store in International Falls, MN. If you weren’t aware that I collected bottles, my criteria are simple.

1. I prefer fired-on labels. But since most modern pops (I’m from the Midwest and Chicago, so I call it “pop”) have paper labels, I’m willing to give a local pop with a paper/printed label  a place in my collection if it’s (a) tasty and (b) particularly striking. Mostly, I like the fired-on labels. They just look better. Plastic bottles are anathema to me.

2. Beautiful/interesting/crazy art.

3. Optimistic names, or names that promise health, social status, and happiness.

Maybe I’ll start photographing my entire collection and run it here.

Fun fact: Most antique soda pop bottles are recovered from old privies.

My Crazy Old Man Training Is Coming Along Splendidly

In days of old (the late 90s) whenever I had an idea or needed to remember something, I grabbed the nearest notepad, Post it, or other scrap of paper, jotted it down, and then stuffed it in my pants pocket. When I arrived home, I amused my wife as I emptied my pockets of my wallet, keys, and a paper salad of yellow and white notes. I didn’t carry a notepad, because, at the time, I was only familiar with the small spiral-bound pads my dad favored, and while the small ones slipped neatly into my pants pockets, the metal spine invariably hooked itself onto either the fabric or my thigh’s flesh. No thank you.

Sometime in, I dunno, 2000, my friend Matt—who loves technology so much, our friend Chris suspected he was operated by a man at a control panel miles away—introduced me to the Palm m100 PDA. That worked nicely for a time. Surely, many trees were saved. My needs were basic, and while Matt kept leaping to the next technology because he absolutely, positively had to know he had an app to direct airflights, I was perfectly happy with the note-taking function. I especially liked the folding keyboard accessory. If there was any doohickey that made me feel like I was living in the future predicted by Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, it was the keyboard. It looked like a Underwood typewriter mated with a calculator. I got many strange looks when I used the keyboard, but I didn’t care. It was the most efficient portable writing device I ever owned. Better than a laptop, and cheaper besides.

Eventually, the m100 died, and once more inspired by Matt I picked up a Palm Tungsten E—a sharp little device. All chrome plastic and—compared to the m100—as organically shaped and sensuous as a Jean Arp piece. I got a few years use out of the Tungsten E. Like the m100, it served as my calendar, notebook, and to do list. I used it as a reader as well, and finished Paradise Lost, The Island of Dr. Moreau, and a few other books on it (all found at Matt’s site—pretty handy during the winter months when the train was crowded.

A couple of Christmases ago Mike bought me an iPod for Christmas (she already had one, being the true techhead in our relationship). I was thrilled with the music playing, Internet, gaming, and video apps, but it slowly became evident that as a word processor and reader, it’s abysmal. Maybe that’s too strong a word. But the reader I downloaded kept crashing, and the notepad and onscreen keyboard are so compressed as to be unusable. Give me back my portable keyboard, say I!

Anyway, that’s why I’m back to stuffing my pockets with bits of paper. Nah, I’m not bringing them home to build a nest for my cats—I’m just bustling with ideas.

Post No Bills?

While shopping for art for our home, I came across an interesting feature on that allows you to view your future purchases in the proper context, be it the kitchen, living room, or boudoir. The settings are studiously bland—tastefully appointed with shabby chic or Ikea-like furniture, decorative and wholly unrelated books and magazines, and sundry knickknacks your great grandma would probably find kitschy. All of which leads to the semi-hilarity of viewing certain posters as the focal point of these domestic and dominantly beige scenes.

“Oh, I love what you’ve done with the breakfast nook, Kathy! Ah, you went with an Detroit Proto-punk motif! Divine!”

“My god, this is the longest dry spell of my life! Why can’t I get anyone to stay the night?”

“What? Why aren’t you eating? I made this delicious dinner and… Oh… that? Well, just stop looking at it and eat your ham. Do you want to switch seats? There we go. Okay… You know, I used a little more sage for the potatoes, which really brings out the… Oh come on… So, it’s my fault you’re looking over your shoulder? What? Oh for the love of… BECAUSE IT WAS A GIFT FROM MY MOTHER, THAT’S WHY!”

Pure Sex

New pocket Moleskines, in an all-new color… RED—appropriately, the color of notebook lust. While I love my journal-size Moleskines, these pocket versions are mighty handy for quick notes. With their soft cardboard covers, they fit very comfortably in my front pants pocket. And while they grow softer and more frayed and wrinkled over time, they remain intact. No metal spirals to snag my clothes either. Believe me, all this makes a difference if you need to carry a notebook with any regularity. Yes, there’s nothing innately superior about Moleskines this size, but… I just like them. The paper feels great and they’re so beautifully visually stripped-down. And I love that red. I can’t wait to fill out my latest notebook so I can start using these.