The Fitful Flog

March 24, 2007

Lead Foot Melvin and the Smart Waterbomb

People sometimes think that I’m hostile to Republicans because I don’t know any. While it is true that in Western Massachusetts, one may so guide one’s steps that they never cross a Republican’s track, I find that this makes it difficult to get to the bus stop on time. Indeed, I know many Republicans. Several of my best friends are of that tribe. I certainly wouldn’t let my sister marry one, but that doesn’t mean I’m not broad-minded, otherwise.

This is on my mind this morning because I recently had a phone call from Lead Foot Melvin, one of my old college buddies. A Republican. He calls every few years to see if I’m rich and famous yet — so far, the answer has been no. He thinks I should be and can not understand my dilatory approach towards this goal. He tells me of his McMansion™ in Silver Springs and his third wife’s plastic surgery and his son (by his second wife) who plays football for Fair Harvard. Yada yada.

And Lead Foot Melvin’ll ask me why I don’t get Evil. Of course, he doesn’t put it that way: I think the term he uses is smart, but it’s very plain from his inflection that he means Evil. It’s not as if he doesn’t know whereof. In spite of his youthful peccadilloes (the liberating of high-powered CO2 lasers from the Physics lab springs to mind, as does the defrauding a US Army supply depot out of fifty pounds of liquid nitrous), Lead Foot Melvin works for Justice today and never seems to be the one who has to resign in disgrace. Not that he can tell me what he does at Justice. Very hush-hush.

So, while we’re on about Sonny Boy at Fair Harvard, lobbing slow spirals over mythical distances, Lead Foot Melvin mentions the crystal egg in Risky Business.

“Do you remember that crystal egg in that movie and the gangster guy chucked it and Tom Cruise was diving over the couch and all to catch it?”

Yeah, I remember. We saw it at the Palace.

“God, that was a beautiful spiral.”

It was, too. And in slow-mo. I always liked Jonathan Demme movies….

“So, why aren’t you making stuff like that, instead of those candy-ass paper flowers and shit? People love that stuff. Crystal eggs and that. You could make a million, easy.”

Well, sure, but I don’t know anything about glassmaking.

“What do you need to know? It’s all who you know, you know? C’mon, start acting smartEVIL, already.”

I’ll think about it.

Smart Waterbomb Top

Smart Waterbomb Bottom Smart Waterbomb Side

So, this is me getting smartEVIL by pandering to your baser instincts. No matter how you came to origami in the end, you started as an eight-year-old with a great lust to waterbomb your friends and enemies back to the Stone Age. The waterbomb is an amazing model — teachers will sometimes refer to it as a balloon, so as not to put ideas in your impressionable head, but waterbomb is the older and truer name.

Trouble with it is, you get higher up than, say, three stories and wind and updraft will begin to hork your accuracy. And once surprise is gone, well, having the moral high ground doesn’t get you anywhere.

This model uses a water chamber with obtuse corners and rounded sides to keep the center of gravity from moving around and spiral vanes to induce a rapid spin in the waterbomb as it follows its ballistic arc. Oh, a thing of beauty — it’s an egg with a helicopter on top.

Method of Construction

We use a circle and inflex an octagon. Using the edge of the paper, fold in mountain curves from the vertices of the octagon to the center:

Smart Waterbomb SCP

Then, inflex another octagon, offset from the first by 60°. Valley fold straight creases from one vertex to its opposite.

Smart Waterbomb SCP

That’s it — collapse the creases and it ties itself up into a neat package, ready for loading and release onto the unsuspecting. Wetness from Above!

(Marcy, my wife, walks through and points out that the fact the I spend my off-time designing a better waterbomb is why I’m not rich and famous yet. Big deal. It’s better than being Missus Lead Foot Melvin the Fourth, I bet you.)

The Smart Waterbomb Crease Pattern (deprecated)

Update: The Smart Waterbomb Sequenced Crease Pattern

6 Responses to “Lead Foot Melvin and the Smart Waterbomb”

  1. 1
    Janice Says:

    Okay, so you’re not rich and famous, but this smart waterbomb is beautiful. This housewife (very un-rich) appreciates it!

  2. 2
    Leyla Torres Says:

    Hi Philip,

    I have enjoyed your smart waterbomb a lot. Thank you for sharing it. I taught it at the recent origami convention in Argentina and wrote a blog entry suggesting another way to play with it.


  3. 3
    Rajesh Says:

    Hi Philip,

    I am a great fan of your work. Are there books to learn these form the basics? Do let me know.

  4. 4
    Kent Clarke Says:

    I’m guessing that soon Lead Foot Melvin will be getting an invitation to visit you, and you’ll be waiting at an upstairs window for him…

  5. 5
    Franklin Says:

    Great wealth is a relative thing .. let Poor Marvin eat his heart out. And of course thanks for sharing this splendid model.

  6. 6
    Ariel Says:

    Hi Phillip,:D

    Great Waterbomb! I’m still trying to get it, but I think I’ll do it eventually…, I’ve just put a puff star at the top of my Christmas tree and well, we are just delighted with these designs with my wife:D.

    Keep on with the work! I think some day will see your designs in a form of a building!:D

    Ariel, Bs As, Argentina

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