Why I like my Martian Fink ring

A few months ago my friend Joshua Glenn asked me to contribute a short piece to a series of true stories "about objects that are lucky, magical, kept on your person or close by at all times." The series is called Talismanic Objects. You can read all the stories at Hilobrow. Here's mine:

As a little kid in the 1960s with limited access to television, my role models were my friends’ big brothers. My friends certainly weren’t role models — they were dweebs like me. And grown ups — they might as well have been a different species, with a way of thinking that made them impossible to relate to. Big brothers were still kids, but infinitely more sophisticated and wiser than 6-years-olds like me (who big brothers regarded with indifference at best and as sticky-fingered pests at all other times).

It was a thrill to walk past a big brother’s open bedroom door and sneak a glimpse in their rooms to find Aurora Monster Models, Mars Attacks trading cards, black light fluorescent posters, MAD magazines, Green Hornet’s Black Beauty model car, Cowsills LPs, Lost In Space View-Master reels, Super Balls, Sixfingers, and Ka-Bala game boards. To me, these treasures will forever be imbued with big brother mojo.

I have a talisman that I can use to summon big brother mojo. It’s a Martian Fink ring — a little armless vinyl creature with pointed ears, antennae, square feet, and a long tongue curling from its leering mouth. It’s attached to a plastic ring so I can wear it on my finger (I don’t).

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Beautiful coin spins for 7-9 minutes

J.L. Lawson & Co makes tops, spinner coins, and other hand-machined products.

Their latest thing is the Tempus Spin Coin, and has been successfully funded on Kickstarter. It's still available in .999 silver, bronze, and copper.

For those of you that are interested in spin times, my average time ranges from 7-9 minutes. Considering the art isn't balanced, the spin is fairly balanced but, keep in mind, this coin wasn't intended for perfect spinning. It's more to help keep you entertained at the local bar.

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A residential contractor shares what's in his tool belt

Paul Abueva is a residential contractor. He shared the contents of his tool belt at Cool Tools (a web site I run with Kevin Kelly and Claudia Dawson).

I am a residential contractor who does remodeling and repair work, so I carry tools that that are useful to a variety of trades work. Over the years I’ve put together what I believe to be a perfect compromise between weight and function. Read the rest

Alan Henry, editor in chief of Lifehacker, shares his favorite tools

In the latest episode of the Cool Tools podcast, Kevin Kelly and I interviewed Alan Henry, editor in chief of LifeHacker. He's also a recovering physicist, music lover, and self-proclaimed lover of dorky and niche hobbies. Alan told us about his favorite headphones, a cold brew coffee maker, a mechanical keyboard, and a web-based smart to-do list app.

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Show notes:

AKG Q701 Quincy Jones Signature Premium Headphones ($250)

"I'm a bit of a headphone fiend and have far too many pairs, but these are my daily drivers."

Takeya Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker ($20)

"I love my Bonavita for my morning hot cup, but this takes the cake in hot weather!"

Das Keyboard 4 Professional Mechanical Keyboard ($162)

"I 'love' keyboards, and own way too many, but this is the perfect blend of mechanical feel and not-too-noisy for writing and work that won't drive officemates batty."


"A no-frills, cross-platform, web-based smart to-do list app that has the bells and whistles in the right places, like reminders and apps/integration for just about every other tool you might use." Read the rest

The Art of Play for the Holidays

Let's take the path less traveled for some holiday gift giving. Two brothers well known in the world of magic and cardistry , Dan and Dave Buck, have a number of enterprises going, including a website called Art of Play . While its nucleus is the sale of unique decks of playing cards, the site has expanded greatly under the guidance of Adam Rubin, the "Director of Puzzles and Games."

We travel the world in search of objects designed to dazzle the eyes and fascinate the mind. From luxurious playing cards to ingenious puzzles and stimulating amusements—each beautiful item in our collection holds a whisper of mystery, brimming with potential for surprise and delight.

25 Days of Christmas Extravaganza! Whatever you celebrate this December, we're honoring you and the ones you love with our 25 Days of Christmas extravaganza. Every day through December 25th we will offer either a free gift or an exclusive item, such as a rare deck of playing cards. Offers are limited to one day only. To take part, just be sure you're subscribed to our newsletter.

I'm personally not much interested in fancy decks of cards—I do my card tricks the old-fashioned way, using Bicycle Rider back cards from the U.S. Playing Card Company. But if, for example, you're a fan of Neil Patrick Harris (who also does magic in addition to being able to sing, dance, act, emcee, etc. and so on) then you might find this special deck interesting.

NPH Playing Cards ($10.00)

Neil Patrick Harris Playing Cards are elegant, intricate, and visually stunning.

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'Arrangements,' Emily Blincoe: assorted objects neatly arranged

Why do these little tableaus of neatness delight us so?