Rainy-Day Project #1423a: Epsom Salts Table Lamp®


Herewith a picture demonstrating correct deployment of possibly my single greatest gift to humanity (if you don’t count my living example of just how far narcissism can go without actually being fatal):

The original, unique and universally-coveted

Epsom Salts Table Lamp®.  

And I know what you’re thinking:

Absolutely. Must. Have!!!!

Here’s what you’ll need:  

  • An expensive Japanese table lamp with rice-paper inserts
  • A flagrantly wasteful 60-watt incandescent light bulb from your bathroom light fixture
  • The giant economy-sized container of Epsom Salts from Shoppers Drug Mart (OMFG not the lavender or eucalyptus. Seriously, are you a hundred years old?)

Also useful: 

Some patience.  If not familiar with the concept, examples of patience would be:

  • allowing someone to actually finish a sentence before you speak instead of nodding with increasing agitation then blatantly cutting them off with the more important thing you have to say;
  • holding a door open for someone until they actually walk through it rather than sighing dramatically and letting it hit them in the face at the last minute because their cane was slowing them down too much; or
  • actually pouring boiling water on the instant oatmeal instead of just eating handfuls of it straight from the box.

Don’t worry if you can’t do any of those things, because really—most people will cater to you if you just scare them enough.  Or lie.  Lying is effective, too, and probably less effort.

A desire to improve your life by means of folk medicine, wishful thinking and willful ignorance combined with a compulsion to spend money as an end in itself.

  • The desire can be sincere (i.e., you are a “low-information adopter”, i.e., stupid) or patently fake (i.e., you’re an asshole but can at least keep up your side of a conversation, which is, in the final analysis, the only side that matters).


Alrighty.  Having gathered together the materials for my celebrated Epsom Salts Table Lamp®, it’s now time for you to actually assemble the shit.

To begin, casually dismantle your zen-style Japanese lamp with rice-paper inserts and place the-wooden-bit-with-the-light-bulb-in-it upside down into the mouth of the mostly-empty Epsom Salts container.

To anticipate your objections, mostly empty is fine, so don’t worry, honey, you don’t have to actually finish anything.

And “casually dismantle” should give you the idea that, naked or clothed, scarfing foie gras at a window table at Scaramouche or brushing cockroaches off stale pizza crusts in a crack house, your lack of commitment is what signals your sophistication, so—DO NOT CARE.

Once you start caring, everyone will want a slice of you, and then where will you be?


On to step two.

Let’s take stock.  You’ve assembled and you’ve casually dismantled.  You now have to hold the-wooden-bit-with-the-light-bulb-in-it firmly in place or it falls out or burns the side.

So like, when this post first appeared two years ago, I was deluged with emails requesting the “correct term for the-wooden-bit-with-the-light-bulb-in-it”.

OK, I got one email, and it was a flyer from Target.  So I’m responding to it now while it’s still fresh.

Dear Target:

Please know that if you would prefer a more Martha-type VIBE“my hens lay eggs in Nantucket Blue to match the drapes, next up, clambake for 500, let’s watch Jacinta line the pit with fresh kelp!” kind of deal—you’ll need to find a blogger who is good at doing Martha-type THINGS, probably including responding to email in under two years and definitely before you shut down all your Canadian stores and flounce off in a huff.

You know, and can I just say, honestly. You guys at Target all desperately need to rethink your priorities. Sketch-bags are crashing like bowling pins thirteen to the dozen at Dollarama checkouts all across Canada due to a scarcity of my Epsom Salts Table Lamp®, and you’re worried about terminology. Nice.

I hate to be the one who pointed this out to you, and I should probably soften the blow. But hey.

Movin’.  On.


Underlying Esthetic Principles (form follows function / Vorsprung durch Technik):

So, like:

1. Not pretty.  2. Dangerous to make. 3. Oh why do I bother.

kind of thing.

The Ordained-by-God and Inescapable Milton Friedman Cute Slogan Law of the Universe

This is the cute slogan bit, which may creep up on you unawares.

This bit is like, you live in London, England and you want to tear down your outhouse which is at the end of the garden, and install a proper WC in your home, then you find out that this will take twelve years, twenty-thousand pounds for union labour and require a signed letter from Buckingham Palace because it’s 200 years old and Sir Edward Elgar may have once taken a dump there, and anyway, why would you ever want to change anything? Oh, yeah, and then the cost of the Blue Plaque with Elgar’s name on it.

So what I’m saying is, this cute slogan bit is “the catch”.

Anyway.  Every new product has to have a cute slogan, and it’s no different for the ESTL.

Like, just because it’s probably saved the lives of everyone you bump into in the course of a day, that doesn’t change the LAWS, you hear me?  It has to obey the same Milton Friedman laws of, like, your toothpaste or your cars and so on.

For example, even if it was found that my ESTL killed all newborn babies within a mile radius, that’s OK.  Because it got made.  It can’t be UNmade and if it makes a profit that is the ONLY THING that matters.  Are you getting this down?

Milton Friedman was GOD, which was why he had such insider knowledge of how the universe works and shit. I don’t know why we just didn’t make him GOD-KING  of everything!

So anyway here’s my cute slogan:

“Epsom Salts Table Lamp®: It’s all about the sketch!™”.

and good luck with  yours.

How to deploy your new ESTL:

Placing the lamp close to your face is great when you’re feeling sketchy. If you can find your face.  Up a little, that’s it.  Well done, sweetie.  Just focus on the Epsom salts and they will draw out all the toxins. From everywhere. 

You know.  The toxins.

Look, just trust me and do it, OK?

As you get more adept with your Lamp, you will start to block all those nano-bots with spy cameras that somehow got implanted in the wallpaper and soft furnishings when you weren’t paying attention, and your semi-permanent erectile dysfunction will gradually abate until you can, with enormous effort, squ-e-e-ze into existence a fleeting, sponge-y hard-on that will fool no one.

Soon everyone will be saying things like, “You used to be so sketchy? You know? And like, all the cameras and shit?   And now you’re like, OK?” ¹

and you’ll say,

“It’s all thanks to David at slowpainful dot com—and my Epsom Salts Table Lamp®!!!” ²

(¹ The term “OK” should not be construed as referring to, or implying any improvement of: chronic headaches, sketchiness, or the sponge-y, fleeting quality of your hard-on, a.k.a. “a semi”. Consult your family doctor before undertaking any new-age project that might ignite even a flicker of hope.)

(² not available in Québec, je suis so fucking desolé)

(Photo: © 2012 by David DelaRoddis, from his NYT Bestseller, “Photography is Hard Unless Of Course You’re Me.” )