Category Archives: Wacky

Shaped Rubber Bands: Why Didn’t I Think of It?

I have these vague imaginings that I will someday invent something and make millions; something simple and practical that people will question how they ever lived without – like that piece of plastic that joins together bra straps to create a crossback and prevent ugly straps peeking out from singlets and sundresses.

I am stunned though at the craze for rubber band shapes. I saw them one day in a local toy store, and by the end of the next day I spied at least three of my children’s friends wearing them. By the weekend, my kids had a couple packs each of these fun money-wasters, and were begging for more.

In case you haven’t seen them, they are colored silicon rubber bands in the shapes of anything from fruit, to baseball players, zoo or wild animals, fairies, princesses, dinosaurs, sea creatures or rock band equipment. Some are multicolored; some have scents; and some are glow-in-the dark. They sell anywhere between $2.50 and about $4.50 for a pack of 12 of varying shapes and sophistication.

Beyond the visual appeal of the shapes, it seems kids love that they can wear them as bracelets or apparently as hair bands, though I think they would rip out hair in the process. When you remove the bands, they return to their original shape and are pretty sturdy, though not indestructible: as my 7-year-old found out, they can break with too much stretching. From a marketing perspective, it’s genius. They are for boys and girls, they can be traded just like Pokemon cards or baseball cards (remember them!), and they appeal to all ages, from five years old to college students and beyond.

I am guilty of grabbing packs of them to send to Australia to my young cousins; and picking some up for my own children, who have already begun trading shapes among themselves, and probably with their friends. My daughter wears them up her arm to school, but my son says his teachers have outlawed them in class, lest the already rampant toy-trading ring grows.

I’m not against the bands per se. They are kind of cool and certainly harmless, unless your vacuum chokes on a stray silicon strand caught in a rug as mine did. I just wish I had thought of it first, because somewhere out there is somebody making my millions.

Oh, if you feel the need to pad said creators’ coffers, and there is a bunch of brands out there from zanybandz to Silly Bandz to just straight-up shaped rubber bands, you can buy the bands in my Brooklyn neighborhood at Pizzazzz Toyz at 281 Court Street  and across the street at Classic Impressions gift and card store, and of course online at or even Office Depot, which I see is selling bags of 20 for just over $3, which works out to a decent deal. But I’m pretty sure any toy store worth its salt is doing a blazing trade in rubber bands right now.

Light Relief

It’s been a busy week. A stressful week even, but I finally got some light relief when I stumbled upon, which has plenty of hilarious fodder. is a collection of anonymously contributed client horror stories from designers. It lists tales of amusing and sometimes unbelievable conversations between designers and their clients; from their bizarre requests and odd quirks to out-of-the box demands. The conversations are unedited, and oh so relatable.

One of my favorites, which had my husband and I chuckling from our laptops was the client seeking a “deeply spiritual” design for a website, including crosses and perhaps some images of Saints thrown in for good measure. When the designer declares he or she is an atheist, the client eventually decides it cannot work with someone in league with the devil. You kind of have to read the conversation to appreciate its humor.

If you need some light relief or have dealt with some hellish clients, check it out.

Eat the Rich

Graffiti Spied En Route to School

I like graffiti; there’s a rawness to good, creative graffiti art that I really admire. Then, of course, there are the random scrawls sprayed across public and private property – many of them infantile and uninspired, like a middle school anatomy lesson some delinquent plastered on the freshly-painted sidewall of  a recently renovated house on Sackett Street.

And somewhere in between, there’s stuff like this scrawling spotted on the Union Street bridge crossing the murky Gowanus Canal, best known these days as a noxious Superfund site in urgent need of a cleanup. I don’t know if the sign is a jab at the much contested Superfund project or just insightful commentary on local property prices, school admissions or the lines outside Blue Marble to get an ice cream  on a warm spring day.

Mostly, it makes we ponder who went to the effort to stop on the bridge, pull out a spray can and leave this note. What was the motivation? It’s too political to be kids – and do kids these days even know what a yuppie is? It seems too self-loathing to be hipsters. So, I’m left wondering.

Either way, it makes me stop, smile and mutter Eat the Rich out of earshot of my children  en route to school and back each day.

Is Your Car Kosher?

This sign perplexed me and made me smile, chuckle even, one sunny afternoon this week, when I pondered what could possibly make a car wash kosher. I have a pretty good working knowledge of things Jewish, being a New Yorker and having many friends from whom to seek guidance, plus both my children went to a Jewish preschool. So, by default, we inherited token Jewish status for the duration.

I did seek guidance on this one. I asked three Jewish friends what could possibly be meant by the sign, planted outside a car wash on Fourth Ave. near 1st Street in Brooklyn. And I came up with nada. Since the place doesn’t sell food, neither enlightened friend could think of any reason a car wash could guarantee a kosher vehicle. One friend suggested perhaps the workers expertly remove any trace of leavened food product from a vehicle in time for Passover, but that was a stab in the dark, to be sure.

I’ve yet to wander inside and ask the Golden Touch folks what the sign means, but I will, and I promise to report back. Meantime, it still gives me a chuckle whenever I pass by.

Mutts on Show at Lyceum

It’s going to be a rainy weekend, too wet for the dog park or long strolls with Rover around the neighborhood, so take shelter and head to the Brooklyn Lyceum for its first Brooklyn Mutt Show.

Proving that even the scraggiest mixed-breed beast can be a winner, there are dog show categories including sloppiest kisser, most indistinct and looks most like owner. It’s $10 per category to enter and you can enter as many of the slots as you like. Of course, your dog doesn’t have to be a mutt to enter, but prizes are for mutts only and purebreds will be left wanting and waiting perhaps for their next shot at the Westminster Kennel Club shows.

Besides the main event, there will be puppy products – from grooming stuff to clothes – for sale, as well as the Lyceum cafe’s coffee and treats. And as if the  chance to hang out with some of the coolest mutts in Brooklyn and beyond isn’t enough, some of the proceeds from the Mutt Show will go to Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition (BARC), a no-kill shelter in Williamsburg.

The Brooklyn Mutt Show runs Saturday, March 13 and Sunday, March 14 from 11am to 7pm at the Brooklyn Lyceum, 227 Fourth Ave.

The Chook

Fowl sighting in Carroll Gardens

Wandering down our street one chilly afternoon, we heard what sounded like  bock-bocking in the bushes next to our building. Lo and behold it was a big, seemingly lost chook, looking for someplace to park itself.  A call to 311 proved useless because animal control apparently deems it completely fine to keep chickens in Brooklyn backyards, or to have them wander the streets until a cat or car gets the better of them. My feisty four-year-old, a budding locavore, suggested we eat said bird, while animal-loving husband and son set up a cardboard box as a temporary home and surfed the web for other solutions. They came across the eglu, a brightly-colored, modernist chicken house sold by the aptly named Omlet, and aimed at urbanites keen to keep a chicken or two for a supply of backyard-fresh eggs. Just as I was warming to the idea of one of these aesthetically-pleasing coops in hot pink or lime green perhaps, our adopted pet was gone, hopefully back to wherever it came from. Only in New York, I guess …