Tag Archives: Play-Doh

Seven Magic Mountains

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I first saw Seven Magic Mountains on my way to Las Vegas (NV) in December of 2016. I was heading south on I-15 when to my right, out in the desert…What is that? I wondered.

The Seven Magic Mountains art installation from a distance. I know this photo only really shows six towers, but trust me, there are seven!

In the middle of undeveloped nature rose several bright, multicolored pillars. They rose up from the desert floor, no other signs of humanity near them. What in the world could they be?

By the time I saw the pillars, I would have had to backtrack to visit them, and I hate to backtrack. Besides, I didn’t know if it was possible to visit the pillars or if there was an admission fee. Also, I was excited to get to Vegas and see my friends, so I decided to just keep going.

I tried to describe the pillars to The Poet and The Activist in hopes they could offer some explanation. They’re bright, colorful blocks stacked on each other in the middle of the desert…

My friends knew exactly what I was talking about. It was an art installation called Seven Magic Mountains, they said.

Wow! Large-scale art installations impress me, and this one was so brightly colored. Both the size and the colors of this one were awesome. The bright colors made each block look as if it had been sculpted from Play-Doh, but such an endeavor would have taken a lot of the modeling compound. Even though I hadn’t gotten close to the pillars, it was obvious that each block was huge.

While I was out and about in Vegas, I found a free informational card dedicated to the installation. I picked up the card and learned a few things about Seven Magic Mountains.

The artist responsible for the piece is Ugo Rondionone. On the card, Seven Magic Mountains is described as

a large-scale, site specific public artwork…

made from

This photo shows a closer-up shot of one of the magic mountains.

locally sourced limestone boulders stacked vertically in groups ranging from three to six. Each stone boasts a different fluorescent color; each individual totem stands between 30 and 35 feet high.

The card also gave the dates of display of the installation as May 2016 to May 2018. I felt sad I hadn’t stopped to see the installation when I was passing by. I hadn’t realized the towers would only be there for a specific period of time. I wasn’t going to pass that way when I left Vegas, and I didn’t know when I’d return to Vegas via I-15. I may have missed my only chance to see the art up close.

As luck would have it, I ended up heading to Vegas again in October 2017. As I left Baker, CA and got closer to Vegas, I remembered the bright towers. I texted The Poet and asked her

Are those giant colorful blocks still out in the desert between here and Vegas? If they are, I probably should stop and see them.

She wrote back

yes they r. last I saw. magic mountains something like that

That was enough information to get me there.

Right before exit 12 for NV-161 toward Jean/Goodsprings, I saw a small brown sign simply reading Seven Magic Mountains so I took the exit. When I reached the stop sign, there was a second brown sign, again reading Seven Magic Mountains and pointing to the right. I turned, came to a stop sign, and found no indication of which way I should go. How are visitors supposed to know which way to turn? I guess the sign posters figure if drivers don’t see the art to the right as they approach the exit, they’ll know to turn left at the unsigned intersection. I thought I had maybe missed the art, so I pulled into the casino parking lot and turned on my GPS to get me there.

The Google Maps lady on my phone (I call her Mildred Amsterdam) told me to take a left onto Las Vegas Blvd. I drove about five miles, then saw the colorful blocks on my right. This was it! I was almost there.

Signs along the road warn drivers not to park on the shoulder. There’s a fairly large parking area, just follow the signs to get there.

Once I was parked, I put on my hat, locked up my van, and walked out into the desert toward the art.

First stop was an sign with some information about the installation. These are some of the things I learned:

The artwork extends [the artist’s] long-running interest in natural phenomena and their reformulation in art. Inspired by naturally occurring Hoodoos and balancing rock formations, the stacks also evoke the art of meditative rock balancing.

As I walked closer to the installation, I counted the columns. I only saw six. Wait. What? I thought. This is supposed to be Seven Magic Mountains. Are their only six?

I stopped and counted again. Only six. Then I moved to the right, and the seventh mountain appeared! There are seven columns, but from different perspectives some of the columns line up and only six of them are visible at once. Ah, the artist was playing with the viewers. Fun!

This photo shows all seven of the magic mountains, plus the bonus natural mountains in the distance. Notice the size of the human visitors in relation to the limestone boulders.

The desert floor was almost empty as I approached the art. Only small, scrubby bushes grow in the area. I guess venomous snakes are an issue because there were a couple of signs warning visitors to watch out for them. I didn’t want to end up like my friend who was bitten by a rattler, so I was careful where I put my feet.

It was really cool to walk among the totems. I enjoyed looking up at them and seeing the bright colors against the blue sky. Everyone out there seemed to be having a good time.

The pillars are totally incongruous and also totally right. The colors stand out against the earth tones of the desert environment, but the size of the columns fit in the wide-openness of the desert. Their scale is just right. I guess Ugo Rondinone knew what he was doing when he decided to put the bright boulders out there.

That’s me in the hat, looking up and up and up and up.

I took all the photos in this post, except for this last one, which was taken by a very nice visitor lady. The older woman who was with the nice lady who took my photo said this was all very “interesting.”

Poo Dough

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During the Christmas season (and its immediate aftermath), I was staying in a small Southwestern town, sleeping in my van. Some nights I would park on quiet residential streets, and some nights I would park at Wal-Mart. On the Wal-Mart nights, when I went inside to use the facilities, I often wandered around the store. It was dark by 6pm, which was much too early to go to sleep, so I had some time to kill in the aisles of the world’s largest retailer (https://nrf.com/2015/top100-table).

I’m often shocked by the Wal-Mart toy department. Not only is it still very much segregated by gender (toys in drab colors for boys over here, pink and garish toys for girls over there), but there’s an over-fascination with elimination.

Barbie Forever Barbie Doll with Tanner the Dog
Barbie has a dog that shits. Well, I guess Barbie’s shitting dog has been recalled. (You can read a really funny essay about that here: https://techliberation.com/2007/08/15/oh-sht-barbies-pooping-dog-is-a-killer/.) But I saw the shitting dog in Wal-Mart’s Barbie aisle when it was still on the market.

The Doggie Doo Game (http://www.walmart.com/ip/Doggie-Doo-Game/45336158) is also about dog poop. Made by the Goliath company, here’s the blurb about the toy on the aforementioned Wal-Mart page:

Feed and walk your little pup, if he makes a mess, you clean it up. When you squeeze his leash, he makes a gassy sound that gets louder and louder until…plop. The first to clean up after the dog three times wins.

How is this a game?

In addition to the defecating dogs, there is always an assortment of dolls the pee and poop, as well as dolly toilets.

Consider the Fisher-Price Ready for Potty Dora Doll (http://www.walmart.com/ip/Fisher-Price-Ready-for-Potty-Dora-Doll/21098742#about.)

This Fisher-Price Dora Doll, Ready for Potty is learning how to use the potty. This Fisher-Price baby doll knows when she’s gotta go and will ask to be put on the potty. Once this baby Dora Doll is done using the potty, she will sing and celebrate to show how proud she is. This doll will get children interested in toilet training.

Wow! How were generations of children potty trained without Dora there to show ’em how it’s done, then sing and celebrate?

Then there’s the classic Baby Alive (http://www.walmart.com/ip/Baby-Alive-Super-Snacks-Snackin-Sara-African-American/42208819). These days it’s all about the snacks.

Keep your little girl engaged for hours with this fun Baby Alive Doll from Hasbro. Sara gets hungry, thirsty and sleepy. She needs someone to use the shaping tools and make her all kinds of snacks. She will drink from her pretend juice box and then poop in her diaper when she is full.

If a baby doll with a dirty diaper isn’t quite enough, how about adding the BABY born Interactive Potty Experience (http://www.walmart.com/ip/BABY-born-Interactive-Potty-Experience/44999171)? (The weird capitalization¬† is right off the Wal-Mart website.)

Enchant the girl in your life with the BABY born Interactive Potty with Toilet Flush sound. She will enjoy training her doll to use the bathroom. All she has to is place the baby on the toilet and she will hear funny sounds when she presses the button. Lifelike sounds also include applause and giggling. The potty training baby will provide hours of entertainment for your little lady.

I could go on and on about defecating dolls, but I’ll stop after one more example, the Lalaloopsy (whatever that is) Babies Surprise Potty toy (http://www.walmart.com/ip/Lalaloopsy-Babies-Surprise-Potty/44999157).

Make playtime more fun and interesting for your child with this Lalaloopsy Babies Surprise Potty toy. This model is specially designed to help your child better understand how the body works. This Lalaloopsy potty doll “magically” poops a surprise shape when she goes. All you need to do is feed her with the included “baby” food. When she’s ready, simply place her on the potty and she will poop it out. It’s a different shape every time.

If you view the video on the webpage cited, you can ask yourself, as I did, how what this doll does could possibly help a child understand how the body works. According the the (disturbingly upbeat and colorful) commercial, pooping happens after turning a dial in the belly button area. Also according the the commercial, poop is colorful and imprinted with button, flower, heart, and star shapes. If I were two years old, this doll would not help me understand how the body works. If I were two years old, this doll would confuse the fuck out of me!

I’d thought all of the aforementioned toys were a tad much, but then I saw the Poo Dough. Yes, Poo Dough. (It does not seem to be manufactured by Hasbro, the company that makes Play-Doh.)

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We as a society have sunk to a new low, when we think molding fake shit is a great way to play.

Here’s what the Wal-Mart website (http://www.walmart.com/ip/Prank-Star-Poo-Dough/39362290) has to say about the stuff:

Make and shape your own poo! Add the Poo Dough to the mold and make your own poo-shaped creations. It includes two canisters of brown Poo Dough (in different shades) and one canister of yellow (to create corn and peanut accessories). It looks like the real thing but smells much better!
Prank Star Poo Dough:

  • Make and shape your own poo
  • 2 canisters of brown dough
  • 1 canister of yellow dough
  • Plastic mold

If you’re wondering if that mold really works, you can go to YouTube and see how it’s done.

I took the photo in this post.

Prank Star Poo Dough