Monday, July 09, 2007

101 Uses for a Paper Clip (McGyver, eat your heart out) : an ApolloCon 2007 panel

Panelists: Kimber Chessmore, Dusty Rainbolt

Description in the program book: Ever wonder what McGyver might do with a paper clip? Our panelists, specially selected for their devious minds, consider McGyver-esque uses for the humble paper clip, and a variety of other small, household objects... as they toss back one bottle of beer after another.

No, actually the program book didn't say anything about beer. But it was a crucial ingredient in the panel. Some of the paperclip uses were not likely to be imagined without some brain chemistry alterations.

Kimber Chessmore and Dusty Rainbolt Kimber Chessmore and Dusty Rainbolt at ApolloCon 2007

People-poking, jewelry, cleaning; other household uses

Quite obviously, a straightened paperclip can serve as a tool for various kinds of poking, prodding or goading. That was a major set of its uses. For example, you could prod gamers with it to get them out of your way. (I didn't think gamers were a major nuisance at the convention, though.) It can be used for straightforward torture. A guy in the audience said, in Clockwork Orange you can use it to prop people's eyes open.

Kimber Chessmore with a straightened paperclip Kimber Chessmore with a straightened paperclip in her left hand (barely visible) for people-prodding

Paper clips can also double as jewelry, for example, earrings for unpierced ears, as Kimber Chessmore demonstrated; or an emergency wedding ring, if you suddenly have to pretend to be married (straighten it and wrap it around your finger).

Kimber Chessmore with paperclips as earrings Kimber Chessmore with paperclips as earrings

Cleaning / hygiene: on a desert island, use a paperclip to clean teeth and various orifices. At home it's handy for digging the hair out of your sink trap (for those with long hair).

Art: if you are making clay pots, a paper clip is a sculpting tool (suggested by a woman in the audience). For cosplay or masquerade, you can fashion an instant antenna out of paperclip if you left the real one at home.

Mundane uses: In all its immeasurable flexibility, a paperclip can be any of these things: a dart tip. A thingy to hang a Christmas ornament from. Or a picture on the wall. For bra repair (if those plastic thingies at the ends of your bra straps break unexpectedly). To puncture an orange peel, so you could peel the orange more easily. A back scratcher. A bookmark. A package opener. Shoe laces. A swizzlestick. A cheap man's cigar punch. A cat toy (not necessarily a safe cat toy, says Dusty).

Farm uses (I've no idea if any of them are valid -- I wasn't raised on a farm): a tool for branding cattle. For horse tack repair. As a bailing wire substitution.

Offbeat uses

Some of the more "out there" uses suggested by people in the audience: on a desert island, paperclips (if you have at least two of them) can be dowsing rods for finding water. Also on a desert island, for lancing a hematoma. Another medical use: as an acupuncture tool. Oh, and speaking of which, Dusty suggested a paperclip could serve as a tattoo needle, though you may need a lot more than two drinks for that, she added.

Kimber said she once posed the paperclip usage question to a group of very polite girls, and the politest of them immediately went: nipple clamps!

Nara (a member of the audience) observed that a paperclip can be handy for stealthy kilt lifting.

Here are more of my pictures and blog posts from ApolloCon 2007.

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