Self Help

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.” )


 Today’s Existential Forecast™!

DavidGravatarToday will be overly diffident, with occasional outbreaks of sarcasm followed by regret.

Competence will be nominal-to-intermittent as measured in “oPrahs”.

GENERAL: A collapsible umbrella advisory is in place. The rims of cups containing scalding beverages are farther away than they appear.

Wear socks to determine if there’s water on the kitchen floor, or go barefoot to locate the one remaining shard of broken Champagne flute.

Three PM brings 100% probability of reliving the split with your ex as you change the Band-aid on your heel. Downcast gives way to defiant after a swig of “Absolut”.

Evening finds you unsuccessful in your attempt to mask your home’s lingering smell of chain-smoking with a devil-may-care spritz of Axe Personal Fragrance.

Yes, that caller with a private number is “Collections”.

TECH INSIGHT: Take extra care to place your smartphone in your back pants pocket, so when you sit down you can accidentally send your account director that text you drafted calling him a “sociopathic catamite”.

It’s best to get these things over and done with.

DRESS TIPS: Tentative recos are clip-on tie and loafers OR scarf with brooch and ballet flats. Crocs and sweatpants? Play it by ear, but only definitely if you’ve completely forgotten that at 1 P.M. you and the team are treating Ronald Lauder and Renée Fleming to lunch at The Carlyle.

Distractibility is high today, clocking in at eight-out-of-ten on a scale where:

1 equals making yourself a cup of instant coffee in under 30 minutes but still forgetting the milk is off;


10 equals setting out to check your calendar and ending up eight hours later with a new operating system that’s worse than your previous one (the “Ubuntu factor”); PLUS an order confirmation for purchase of a vintage “Mister Potato Head” kit from eBay; and a whole slew of hate mail from “just-repeal-it-then-impeach-the-socialist-towel-head-dot-com”.

Fig. 1:  Emotional turbulence (note decorative cushion)

Emotional Turbulence (Fig. 1):  There may be unexpected gusts of low-self-esteem-induced hysteria.

Never, but we mean NEVER, take refuge under a tree.

Instead, watch for the throwing of a small, decorative cushion, which signals that the hysteria has passed.

You’re welcome!

Count slowly from the outbreak of hysteria to find out how long until the cushion-throwing!

Today’s ATF (Asshole Tolerance Factor): Zero, peaking at 1. Some of you might want to remain indoors.

We’re just sayin’.

Overall outlook for —

MEN: Breezy, but with toe rubbers. You’ll despise, yet be powerless to change, the general perception that your mother still buys your clothes, and/or that you’ve just left a Presbyterian seminary.

As our fashion maven has it: “GAP ‘Relaxed Fit’ is death’s French kiss!”

POINTS TO PONDER: The way your boss stares at your sandwich while adjusting her pencil-skirt will make you question the cool-factor of waxed paper. Also egg salad.

WOMEN: Brave, with just the tiniest tragic hint of your grandmother’s pill-box hat. You’ll spend the day trying to project the plucky vulnerability of Dorothy Gale, while actually coming across as a more vitriolic Dorothy Parker, only without the redeeming wit.

WHAT WOULD IVANKA DO?: A Singapore Sling* at The Algonquin or similar establishment may help with your tendency to assume the role of “Ms. Quark-y Gluon Who Holds the Universe Together”.

But your PMS will hate you.

High tonight? (as in, Will you be…?) Seriously? Like, does the Pope wear Balenciaga? We totally think he does!

This has been Today’s Existential Forecast™ : We face the world so you don’t have to!™


*[Sorry — That should read “A Singapore Sling or five”. My bad! LMAO!! — ed.]

♥♥♥♥ Qu♥tes t♥, like? Live by?!! L♥L!! ♥♥♥♥

marie-curie (1).png

“Radioactivity!” – Egyptian child-goddess Po Ra. (This is your eagerly-anticipated Bonus Quote.  Since you asked.)

Just wanted you to be totally aware that I wasted some of my immeasurably valuable time in my Canadian Tire hip waders, sloshing through the digital swamp that is the “Innernet”, and why?

Why, the better to direct, albeit remotely, every tedious, one-more-Percocet-to-oblivion waking moment of your sorry life, that’s why.

OK?  You getting this down and suitably grateful?  Or at least pretending?

Armed with these cultured pearls of Woolworth-level wisdom – today’s fob-off for inspiration – your goal of achieving POTUS will seem, well,  just that few pathetic millimetres closer. If you were to stick your face right up to it.  Your goal, I mean.

Authentication and fact-checking:  You may be wondering.  These qu♥tes have been rigorously checked against my own entries on Wikipedia, “The encyclopedia you write yourself!”™ , and have received my approval.

Qu♥tes t♥, like? Live by?!! L♥L!!


“You see this triangular-shaped mark on my right cheek?  You might think that was from Annie Sullivan.  But you wanna know the truth?  I answered the iron!  Yes, seriously!  Talk about your wa-WAAAA moment, eh?!

— Helen Keller

“Pierre – !  Where the ‘ell did I put ze radium ?   Zut alors !!”

— Marie Curie

“Sure, I changed, like, mankind’s understanding of space and time.  But I’d give it all up to have, you know.  Normal hair.  Seriously.  Let’s make absolutely sure we’re on the same page here:  I’m talking jet-black, straight, lanky, Japanese-style hair that looks like I stayed up all night ironing it.”

— Albert Einstein

“Wait a minute! Clamato juice … add vodka to clamato juice!  Whatever that is!  Seriously! And garnish it with – a stalk of celery!  They’ll love it in Des Moines!  Dude, are you getting this down?”

Julius Caesar

(Disambiguation: NOT Caesar Salad, who succeeded him).

“Hey, what did the Queen Mother give Fergie for her birthday?  A  trip to Paris, dinner at the Ritz, and a chauffeur-driven limousine!  I know.  I don’t get it either.  Anyway. What do you think with the blouse – scarf or tiara?” 

— Diana, Princess ♥f Wales

 Ask not what your country can do for you – just ask Marilyn to turn up around 7:20 at the Pentagon and proceed to the men’s washroom.  I’ll be in stall three.

— J♥hn Fitzgerald Kennedy

The only rule is don’t be bring and dress cute wherever you go. Life is too shrt to blend in. <giggle>

 Nels♥n Mandela

There is no such thing as society: there are individual men and women.

In my case, individual men and women with their noses falling off in big, leprous chunks. Seriously, EWWWWW!

—M♥ther Teresa

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.

— Arthur Sch♥penhauer

Mediocrity hits the broad side of a barn while driving a stretch Hummer filled
with overweight bridesmaids.  Sexting.

 Als♥ Sprach David R♥ddis