The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'eccentrics'
Meet Nakamatsu Yoshiro, also known as Dr. NakaMats, the veteran Japanese inventor with 3,377 patents to his name and a stream of inventions dating back to 1952, when he invented an early type of floppy disk. Nakamatsu's floppy disk (a wood veneer disc designed to replace punched cards) was not immediately successful, and neither was the digital watch he invented a few years later, though both ideas found their place decades later. (IBM actually licensed Nakamatsu's patents for the floppy disk in 1969, despite having come up with it independently.) Nakamatsu followed these up with a steady stream of inventions; a few have been enormously successful, funding both his elaborate residence (a high-rise building shaped like a floppy disk) in Tokyo and his more out-there inventions:
Among his other creations (he will earnestly tell you) are the CD, the DVD, the fax machine, the taxi meter, the digital watch, the karaoke machine, CinemaScope, spring-loaded shoes, fuel-cell-powered boots, an invisible “B-bust bra,” a water-powered engine, the world’s tiniest air conditioner, a self-defense wig that can be swung at an attacker, a pillow that prevents drivers from nodding off behind the wheel, an automated version of the popular Japanese game pachinko, a musical golf putter that pings when the ball is struck properly, a perpetual motion machine that runs on heat and cosmic energy and...much, much more, much of which has never made it out of the multiplex of his mind.Dr. NakaMats is 84, though expects to live (and keep inventing) for another 60 years; he puts this down to his carefully controlled lifestyle regimen, which includes limiting sleep to only six hours a night, eating a special low-calorie diet (including a supplement, naturally, of his own invention, Dr. NakaMats' Rebody 55), as well as going on long underwater swims to starve his brain of oxygen, allowing inspiration to strike.
Dr. NakaMats is not without his detractors; some point out exaggerations in his claims (for example, the taxi meter, which he claims to have invented was patented in the US before he was born, and his claims to a perpetual motion machine, if taken at face value, are not compatible with the second law of thermodynamics). And none other than Kawakami Kenji, the founder of the absurdist (and militantly noncommercial) invention praxis of chindogu, has criticised Nakamatsu for his focus on money and self-glorification:
“Real inventions open our hearts and minds, enrich our lives, bring us closer together,” says countryman Kenji Kawakami, the anarchic founder of chindogu—intentionally silly and impractical creations that are not useful, patented or for sale. “Dr. NakaMats is all about money and fame and ego.”
Bobby Fischer, former chess world champion, Cold War posterboy, reclusive eccentric, anti-Semitic al-Qaeda fan, fugitive from US justice, naturalised Icelander and subject of an iLiKETRAiNS song, has died in Iceland, of an unspecified illness. He was 64.
And more on the recent US elections: not surprisingly, Kinky Friedman didn't win the governorship of Texas.
Apparently a key difference between the British and the Americans is that Britain has eccentrics where America has exhibitionists:
The British enjoy eccentricity. Americans do not, because it is a quieter state, and to be quiet is to set oneself on the road to anonymity--arguably the condition from which Americans shrink most sharply. A good place to note this difference is in literature. I can think of no memorable eccentric character in American literature; yet from Ahab to Huck Finn, from the Cat in the Hat to Tom Wolfe's Rev. Bacon, there is no dearth of exhibitionists.
Angle Grinder Man, a "vigilante cum subversive superhero philanthropist entertainer type personage", who goes around in a superhero costume and mask freeing motorists from wheel clamps all over Kent, in the name of some vaguely anarchist/right-wing-populist philosophy. (What is it about Kent and nutters in superhero costumes anyway? First they had that chap in Tunbridge Wells and now this guy. Did the creators of Superman know something we didn't when they gave him his surname?)
Something for the outsider-art fans: a list of notable music by the mentally ill and eccentric, from Joe Meek to Syd Barrett to Wesley Willis:
T. Valentine, "Hello Lucille, Are You a Lesbian?"
If a bloodline could be traced from Wesley Willis, it would lead straight to this R&B catastrophe, who in 1982 dedicated this song to his wife after she came out of the closet. "I hate all lesbians," T. Valentine emotes with a pronounced lisp (hmmm).
Richard Peterson, "New Young Fresh Fellows Theme" (PopLlama, 7-inch single)
You've probably seen the large-statured Peterson blowing his trumpet around town. Peterson, who could have played the lead in Sling Blade, has recorded four albums and this 1992 single, in which he wrote and arranged a new theme for YFF (which is musically brilliant), insisting in the lyrics that YFF should add Peterson to the fold.
More details on the Tunbridge Wells costumed crimefighter, whose lightning appearances have been striking terror into the hearts of louts and delinquents across the Kent town:
Mr Shaw said he would like his work contacts to know that he is, as far as he is aware, of sound mind, and he doesn't drink at lunchtime. "You're looking for a tall guy," he said, "with a brown cape, brown mask, brown boots and a big orange suit with a brown 'O' symbol on the front."
"O"? Perhaps it stands for "Outraged" or something?
"Well, it is that sort of town. There are quite a few eccentrics. There's one bloke who wanders round in a bra singing, and another who goes about in full German uniform shouting 'I'm a naughty boy'. But I can't say I've seen this caped crusader."
The quiet Kent town of Tunbridge Wells, best known as the traditional home of conservatively-inclined newspaper letter writers, now has its own costumed crimefighter. (via NWD)
OK, enough doom and gloom for now. Turkmenistan's massively eccentric leader, President-for-life Saparmurat Niyazov (best known for renaming the months and legislating the Ages of Man), has punished a local TV station for being too boring. The head of the state-run TV station, most of whose coverage was of Niyazov's speeches or smiling children singing songs of praise to him, was docked one (appropriately renamed) month's pay over the "low quality" of programming.
An article about Turkmenistan's President Niyazov, arguably one of the loopiest world leaders in recent times. (The only other contender I can think of, the former Latin American president who sang as "the madman who loves", pales into insignificance next to Niyazov's decidedly quirky and somewhat Jarryesque take on the traditional neo-Stalinist cult of personality.
He began by renaming the months of the year after himself, his mother, who died in an earthquake when Niyazov was eight, and a few of his favourite words (Flag Month, for example); and followed it up by decreeing that old age officially doesnt begin until 85. This was possibly in relation to both his 62nd birthday which he celebrated by dying his hair jet-black and his rampant hypochondria. On Turkmenistans website, there is more about Niyazovs recent doctors appointment than on melons and sulphur combined.
Mind you, by this account, Turkmenistan sounds like it was a rather odd sort of place even before Niyazov. (via New World Disorder)
A collection of amusing epitaphs and witty obituaries: (via A&L)
Or "Joe" Carstairs, the woman who owned and ruled an island in the British West Indies, which she dotted with signs such as: "I eat brown rice in preference to white. Therefore, if brown rice is good enough for me and my household, it is good enough or even too good for the people." Viscount Barrington, whose method of timing a boiled egg "was to recite a fixed number of the quatrains of Omar Khayyam."