When I did my cartoon on cultural histories
I thought I linked to the most ridiculous titles in my blog post
, but it turns out I missed the motherload. ToothPick
: Technology and Culture was released in October, written by Henry Petroski, the author of--and I kid you not-- The Pencil.
A magazine ad I saw last night alerted me to this book, declaring that this "useful and ubiquitous tool finally gets its due!" To give you a glimpse of how exciting this book is, Publisher's Weekly says, "Petroski occasionally offers a first-person perspective, describing the unpleasant feel of a bamboo pick or confessing that sometimes he'll resort to a mechanical pencil."
At the bottom of the ad it it has this:
Consider the Toothpick:
- Anthropologist have found evidence of groves on fossilized teeth of Neanderthals that resulted from rough-hewn toothpicks.
- In Spain, a young señorita used the instrument to protect her virtue from someone trying to steal a kiss.
The phrase "jumped the shark" refers to the moment a good trend or TV show goes bad--it started
when Fonzie jumped a shark on Happy Days. But what about when they continue and there's just this moment where you realize not only how bad it is, but that the badness has reached such levels that it should be forcibly stopped--by law if necessary. I propose "toothpicked," as in "cultural histories have toothpicked--time stop making them and pulp the ones that exist."