1/29/10

Kruger Pistol - The "Kr" makes it affordable!

So I was flipping through a fifty-six year old copy of Popular Science, like any normal person, when I came across this full page ad for a cheap knockoff of a WWII Luger pistol.
Again, like any normal person, I jumped and said "Whoa!" We're just not used to seeing gun ads in non-gun magazines. Maybe if I were lying around in my sun room, sipping a cranberry spritzer, looking through the newest issue of Angry Drifter or Barely Employable, I could see this ad and and not be so surprised. Instead of thinking "By the great elf of keebler! A frikkin gun!", I'd probably think "Hm! That's a very economical weapon!"

I dunno. Maybe back in '54, guns hadn't been vilified so much. Maybe they hadn't been painted as dangerous vehicles of murder like they have now... you know, by all those murders people used them for.

Right after the surprise of seeing the ad, I had to scan the copy to see if it's a pellet gun or some realistic but non-functional collectible. Nope. Line one: "This is not an air or CO2 gun." It's also not a Luger. Luger was a German company that made the pistol by the same name. Lots of American soldiers came home (the ones that DID come home) with Lugers taken from German soldiers or by other means. The gun was famous and has a bit of a following. Looking up the name Luger now shows that they're now based in Connecticut, and have been since 1949. I wonder if they bought the name from the German company? I dunno. For more information, ask your local World War Two nut.

Misspell the name, and you're what we call "lawyer-safe". You can do whatever you like with the resulting name and you can't be sued by the non-"Kr" company. Ever see cheap electronics by the name "Coby" in a font that looks a LOT like "Sony". Same thing. The look alike trick is something my friend calls the "grandma store version", meaning that there's a store somewhere where grandmas buy gifts for grandchildren. Grandma can't keep all the names straight and will buy anything that sort of looks like the right name. She may come home with "Space Wars" figures or some other not-even-close approximation of the thing you actually want. The grandma store is a fiction used to explain a real world phenomena: cheap knockoff products.

But three dollars for a real gun! That's $24 in today's money. Talk about your cheap murder! Of course, you could be buying the thing to shoot imitation clay pigeons or empty cans from "Bambell's Soup". Who was the market for a dirt-cheap gun? The recently unemployed? Children? The recent gun hobbyist who's not sure if "this whole gun thing" is for him? The ad was run in Popular Science, so I guess the market was disappointed technology fans who wish they could be real scientists. Guilty as charged, but I don't want an imitation Luger. If ever I actually DID want a gun, I think I'd want a really good, proper gun. When you're buying a thing that sends bullets whizzing around, you definintely want one that's reliable, so the bullets whiz in the right direction. I'd imagine that a poorly made gun would stand an even chance of just exploding your fingers off or missing the intended target by a country mile.

Look at the smaller picture in the ad. It's a serving suggestion showing you how the gun goes in your hand. It'd be great if they had a picture of a doofus using the Kruger to itch inside his nostril, with a big "NO" sign across it. In any case, the Kruger company seems to be aiming at the velcro-closure shoes types who need tips on how to point a gun. Maybe the picture is intended to show that the gun is full size, and not a miniature model? Naw... the hand could be miniature too. The photo proves nothing.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
Articles in this month's Angry Drifter magazine:

-Kruger Pistol Review: Felony on a Budget
-The "Report" Report: How Loud is Too Loud?
-Murder: Know When to Say When
-Anger Management: Keep the Fires Burning
-Planning Your Next Multi-State Crime Spree
-Eyebrow Management: Going for that "normal" look.
-"Am I Unstable Enough?": Our fifty question quiz will tell you!
-Silencers Roundup: Sometimes Death Whispers

1/28/10

Servel Refrigerator - Ice is H.O.T.!

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that the idea of using sex as a sales motivator is super new. We just thought of it a few days ago, in a lab, and the shrink wrap has just come off of it. Brace yourself.... INCORRECT!
Behold! The Servel Electric Refrigerator with Automatic Ice Maker! Who? I know what you mean. I'd never heard of them either. Well, they're still around, it seems, filling that nice market for propane refrigerators. What? I know what you mean. Apparently early fridges were gas powered, and worked via evaporation. Fire heats ammonia which circulates throughout the unit and then evaporates and goes to the bottom for more heating. Weird, huh? That explains why Servel was excited enough about electricity to put a badge in the fridge bragging about it. It's there in the picture, below her boobs.

So yeah, boobs. Look at this ad! Then please make a growling cat sort of noise to yourself, because that's clearly what the designers of this ad had in mind. She's getting ice cubes... for two! She's in her nightie, and wearing makeup. There's only a couple of reasons a woman would be dressed for bed with makeup on. She's not getting ready for a Playboy shoot.  She doesn't look like she's in a photo studio (even though she is). She's in her kitchen, and it's bizness time! And it kind of looks the photographer is the lucky fella. Either that or she's one hell of an actress. Look at those eyes. I guess the implication is that, if you're getting ready to "make the sexy", you don't want to fumble around with ice cube trays.

This ad looks funny because it's part of a two page spread. Here's the other page.
Nothing super funny here... just Junior at the start of a habit that will have him undergoing bariatric surgery when he's thirty. What a lovable little scamp. Stealing cake.






This window AC unit is great. It looks like a drawer. Great job disguising the thing, guys. It looks like a perfectly ordinary window drawer.
 "Nice window drawer, Gordon." "Thanks, Chuck! It makes me feel like I've captured the world and stuck it in my drawer as punishment for being so very naughty." "Uh huh. I gotta go, Gordon!"


It looks like a filing cabinet got caught breaking into their house.

Lastly, the logo is great. It's cool enough to put on a supercar. There's a free font out there that's pretty similar to this, called Dragonwick.



1/26/10

Sweetheart Soap - Addressing the miniature nymph market.

Beauty products often go for the soft sell, often relying on images based on pure fantasy to move product. There can only be so many real reasons to buy soap. there can only be so many different ingredients in soap. Mostly they're just sodium laureth sulfate and glycerine. After that, you're pretty much down to perfume. So, yeah, how to sell your soap in an already crowded marketplace? Make her think she's a tiny naked woman taking a bath in the forest. Or, at least, that's the magic answer the Purex company landed on.
Every woman's fantasy: to bathe in a clawfoot tub, somehow fed with hot and cold return lines in the middle of a forest, where only the bugs can see her perfect nudity.

Something's weird about the composition. The blurry leaves in the foreground - they sort of look like they're close to the camera, but they also look like they're on the same plane as the tub, just really huge. Is this lady six inches tall, bathing in a miniature tub? If so, she's in much more danger doing her washing up in the forest, where even something as small as a squirrel could pose a serious threat... if he decided she had some acorns hidden in her bathwater.

It looks like she's just finished washing, maybe she even had the time to luxuriate in the moment with her Sweetheart soap. But what now? She wraps her towel around herself, and steps out of the tub onto the packed earth floor of the forest primeval. Now her foot's dirty. Maybe even a few bugs have crawled onto her. She then needs to make her way back to her house/tent/yurt/quonset hut/bivouac/internment camp to apply moisturizer and makeup or something. Where's her makeup table? On the top of a mountain, or maybe in a subterranean cavern? She must be in her bathroom if she's in the tub. Maybe her toilet is just out of shot? Let's give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that, while she has spent the money to run plumbing out into the forest, she's kept all the bathroom fixtures close together. I mean, she's not crazy, right?

How luxurious is it sitting on the pot in the forest? Her husband pounding on a nearby tree. "Are you gonna be in the forest all damn day? Our reservations are at eight!" "Almost finished dear!" she calls. "Just fending off a bear, and then I'm all done. Oh, honey... could you bring me my pink hair clip? I think it's in the Himalayas." Her husband, already irritated that she's taking so long, now has to charter a helicopter to mount an expedition to retrieve her pink hair clip... IF that's where she left it! She thinks it's in the Himalayas, grumble grumble. Goddam CH-47 cargo chopper just to get her hair clip, grumble grumble grumble. Lost six men last time because she thought she left her purse in the laundry room, in an active volcano.

Man, luxuriousness must be a lot of work! That better be some good soap.

1/25/10

Wurlitzer Sideman - Don't go "Pfff!". That's it's job!

In 1959, if you wanted to rock your living room, a Wurlitzer organ was pretty much The Shit. Three hundred pounds. The size of a freezer. It was the progenitor of the modern synthesizer, and if you had one of these, your dad was either a surgeon or a Wurlitzer rep, and you could throw away your TV set. However, despite the various warbles and honks your organ could produce, it couldn't do drums...yet. So, Wurlitzer developed the Wurlitzer Sideman - arguably the world's first drum machine.

All I remember from the seventies was this same technology already incorporated into the chassis of an organ. Apparently, it wouldn't fit at first. The Sideman was 26x26x12 inches: the size of an end table. Since it was the size of furniture, it was built like furniture, too.

So, what did you get for your $365 ($2700 in today's money)? Well, you got pretty much the only game in town. There were other companies trying to make a drum machine, but they were based on tape loops or photoelectric cells and were unreliable. The Sideman worked on a rotating wheel that triggered various contacts as it turned, making the percussion sounds. Tempo was adjusted by changing the speed of the wheel. Here's a YouTube video where you can see how it worked and how it sounded. Here's another.

The sound of the Sideman is completely cool. You know these drum sounds already. They're part of the standard repertoire of almost any drum machine or rhythm software you can buy. They won't fool anyone into thinking they're real drums, but they've been grandfathered into our musical subconscious as part of our common history. The cymbals go "PFFF". The tom toms go "DUPPA DUPPA DUP". The bass drum goes "DOOK".

Here's a very detailed article on the history of the Sideman.

Like any useful technology, when it first appeared, the Sideman was enormous, clunky, and insanely expensive, making it fun to laugh at. However, the fact that you can still hear the Sideman in your iTunes library 40 years later means that it has the last laugh.

1/22/10

Cave Organ - Install one in YOUR cave today!

This is so unbelievably cool, I'm a little hurt that the world has somehow kept this knowledge from me for so long.
In 1957, Mechanix Illustrated ran this short article about The Stalacpipe Organ in Luray Caverns, VA. Physicist Leland Sprinkle honed the stalactites in the cave to perfect pitch and built this organ down there to basically play the cave. Cleverly, he called it a "Lithophone". The sound is kind of like a really huge vibraphone. I was kind of hoping for some amazingly low notes, but hey, Sprinkle had to work with what the cave offered.

Here's a YouTube video about the organ, taken from Ripley's Believe it or Not. True to form, the Ripley's program gives you only a tiny sliver of what you actually want - the actual sound of the organ - and lots of pointless cuts and annoying stock music. Production values are as lowbrow as it gets.

Amazon turned up zero CDs or MP3s of the lithophone. However, there is a DVD about Luray Caverns that, judging from the description, mentions nothing about the Lithophone. What the hell? It seems that, if you're looking to get some cave tunes for yourself, you'll have to visit the gift shop at the mouth of the cavern. Booo.

1/21/10

Little Ads - Big promises to big nerds.

In Popular Mechanics / Mechanix Illustrated / Science and mechanics / Virgin Geek magazine, you'll find pages filled with these little ads. They're clearly aimed at unfortunate weenies who want to be sold the dream of having super powers... or maybe their very own chicken farm.

You can still find the modern equivalent of these ads in Popular Mechanics / Popular Science / Unpopular Gearhead. Mostly, the modern versions of these ads are about boner pills or pheromone-based seduce-any-woman-you-want cologne or live-forever dietary supplements. Sigh. Don't get me started on "dietary supplements". You can legally sell broken glass and cyanide tablets so long as you label it as a "dietary supplement". Anyway, these ads are your gateway to the superlife you've always dreamed of. I'm sure the company is still around, so feel free to send them money, adjusted for the rate of inflation, of course.

Don't pretend you don't want a cloud of squiggly numbers floating around your head. Look how happy the clip art man is. Come on, the book is bound in cloth. Cloth!!!

Nobody will read the text. All you need to know is that if you're an artist, you can get chicks to take off their clothes for you to stare at them. That's the only reason anybody ever became an artist. It totally works, too. Rush order today.
Umm, I think they meant to type "yoga". "Yogi" is a practitioner of yoga or a baseball player. Alternately, the author of the ad was making up any silly crap just to sell a pamphlet. Or the headline was supposed to read "Learn, yogi!", implying that you are already a yogi but you still have something you need to learn from their book. The man in the picture seems to believe that he's made the most of what he's got, which apparently are his breasts. Look how he's cupping them! Also, those lines shooting out of his head are pretty snazzy. People would listen to what you say if you had a set of radial head-mounted lines. Hmm. Maybe I'll try this one.

Wow. Look at that guy. With hand gestures like that, you could persuade anybody to "laugh, cry and ACT". Huh? Make people act? That's a weird claim. Looking at those persuasive hands, I bet Al Piemonte was a student of this speaking course.

Just in case you forgot what happiness looks like, they've included this picture to remind you how to make a happy face, and that Al Capone was a fine example of happiness.

Yep. Poultry raising. Very lucrative, and a completely non-disgusting way to make money in your back yard. Chapter 1: "How to raise chickens". Chapters 2-27: "Litigation advice for those with neighbors who don't appreciate the noise or smell of chicken farming."

I needs me some "self-mastory". Gotta get me some mental science, stat!

THE Eugene Feuchtingtheinger? Wups! Looks like ol' Eugene's still in the biz. Look at this. Weird. I hope it's still him at the front of the class room, hopefully in zombie form. The ad's from 1953, so he could be alive, but old. I'd put more effort into a class if I was afraid the professor would eat my brain if I didn't pay attention. Weird picture. I understand why they used the gaping mouth profile, wonky drawing though it is. But what's with the short-legged figure with the briefcase? What are the dots around his feet? He kind of looks like Toulouse Lautrec. Creepy clip art or no, I still want to have a "prefect voice". I guess I'll look elsewhere for  perfect spelling.

No bogus claims here. "Popular songs the public goes wild over." You can definitely make a pop song with a formula. Some lucky reader may have ordered this course and written the next "Who Released the Dogs?" of 1953.

As anyone will tell you, doctors are the ones to ask about happy marriage. Maybe when you walk into the doctor's office, the receptionist would ask "Happy marriage or prostate trouble?". Must have got a discount for buying two ads.


Hypnotism only works on those who want to be hypnotized. You can't hypnotize anyone against their will, cartoons notwithstanding. If hypnotism worked, I wouldn't be able to NOT send in a check to this ad.

Screw memory. I want to be able to shoot lightning from my head and have it spell things in the air.

Heh. I don't care what the ad says. I love the little man holding money with little dollar signs squirting out of it. Very persuasive! Make me that guy who has so much money he can't hold all the dollar signs in one hand!

Swedish body massage. Step 1: Rub fat man's back. Step 2: Do NOT let fat man turn over! If he complains, apologize in fake Swedish: "Svergey bergey svervey wuurg. Der verrven gurrben!"

1/20/10

Webster's Dictionary - Could a gift say more? Explicitly. Indubitably. Palpably.

You can't blame them. Any company will try to spin their product every way they can, to get a slice of the Christmas sales pie. You also can't blame me for scoffing at Webster's attempts to make a dictionary seem like a thoughtful gift.
The tag line is true enough. A dictionary gift can say a lot...

"I bought you this at the airport this morning, darling."

"I'm a crusty old professor who was never close to my daughter."

"I have heard you say words in the past, so I got you this book that talks about them."

"I know you have a mouse problem, and this book seemed pretty heavy."

"Your poor vocabulary is proving to be an obstacle, trammel, or vicissitude in our relationship."

"I work for Webster's, Inc. and I am lazy."

"I have determined that your earth-customs obviate the need to convey to you a gift at this particular portion of your annual planetary orbit, in accordance with various superstitious mythologies. Beep."

They tried to make the woman look relaxed and casual, dressed in her Chanel suit, sitting in her spotlessly organized library. So, bad job there. We assume she's just relaxing, reading the dictionary, but she could easily be reading The Bell jar, or Roots. It is 1968, after all. But no, let's assume she's reading the dictionary. I know there are people who do this, just to pass the time during a very long prison sentence, for example...or to kill a few days while waiting for the medicine to kick in.

If her husband gave her the dictionary, I think she's probably looking up "divorce".

1/18/10

Teledoctoring - Better than nothing, until "Nothing Doctoring" is invented.




Joke #1: Teledoctoring replaces inefficient house calls with terrifying, traumatic experience.

Joke #2: "Mr Jones, there seems to be something wrong with your pincer. It's all squishy and has too many claws. I can't imagine how you've been getting all your pincing done."

Joke #3: "You think you're sick? This thing here... your "ARM". These are what I miss most about being a severed doctor head in a box. Thanks for rubbing it in, jerk."

Joke #4: Teledoctoring successfully treats all major afflictions of the left arm. Other body parts to be reached in future decades, after "wheels" are invented.

Joke #5: Teledoctoring replaces Radiodoctoring. Mortality rate slightly improves.

Joke #6: Eliminating the need for house calls, Teledoctoring allows the physician to verify that the patient is still dead, many times throughout his day, without leaving his office.

Joke #7: Teledoctoring replaces all outdated means of lifting the arm and poking it.

Joke #8: Teledoctoring replaces inefficient house calls, for ninety-five cents for the first minute, five dollars for each additional minute. Average call time, seventeen hours.

Joke #9: "Thank you for using Teledoctor. Your call is very important to us. For leprosy, press one. For emphysema, press two. For crushed hand, press three. For all other ailments, please remain sick and one of our ridiculous contraptions will be with you shortly. Thank you for using Teledoctor. Your call is..."

 Joke #10: "Hmm. Well, pinching your arm reveals nothing out of the ordinary. Where did you say this 'colon cancer' was bothering you?

1/15/10

Appian Way Pizza - The original shitty pizza.

Pizza was still pretty new back in 1957. Remember on the Flintstones (aired 1960-66), whenever Wilma made a pizza for Fred, she always used the term "pizza pie"? That shows you how new and strange it was to middle America. I think a decent analogy is "pita bread". When pita becomes ubiquitous, the "bread" will become superfluous, since people won't need help understanding that it's a type of bread
So here's the Appian Way pizza kit. "The original pizza." Hmm. really?!?!?! Appian invented pizza? In an effort to give the company the benefit of the doubt, I tried to read it like this: "The original pizza mix and sauce", using the text on the banner below as part of the sentence. That would narrow it down to a more plausible claim. But you know what? Two phrases placed on different graphical elements in this way definitely looks like two separate thoughts. It's not one sentence. Appian really is claiming to have invented pizza! Eff you Appian. I've never heard of your pizza, and neither has Wikipedia.

"Build yourself a pizza, right at home. Looks like some tomato sauce and some cheese. It also looks like a giant scab. Lesson one of advertising (Not really lesson one. What the hell do I know?): Don't photograph your food in black and white. Adding some red spot color isn't much better than black and white. No food looks good rendered in gray and red, unless you're selling wounds. "Road rash pizza mix. Contains one elbow and a chunk of asphalt. Directions: Thaw contents. Apply asphalt to elbow. Rub really hard."


The art in this ad is pretty great. I like the spaced-out hostess offering some sca... -err, PIZZA to that Thunderbirds puppet. Fololw her gaze. She's not even looking at him! She's looking... well, by the blissed-out look on her face, she could be looking at David Bowie floating around the room like in Flight of the Conchords. What the heck is in that pizza?

It looks like there's a lot of air escaping from the pizza. See all those white strings wiggling up from it? Everyone knows that fans come with white strings tied to them so that you can tell they're on. Therefore, this pizza must be generating a lot of wind somehow. It must be updrafts of air, off the coasts of the islands of cheese powder floating in the tomato sea.

At the bottom, there's a really nice clip-arty drawing of a pizza making lady. See how fancy she is! She looks regal and confident... almost conceited. However, her lips are off registration, making her look like she just got punched in slow motion... probably for making that shitty pizza again.

1/14/10

Household Inventions - Asbestos we can make them!

In 1945, Popular Mechanics ran this piece about new household inventions. There is no mention of who invented them, if they were ever sent to market, or even if these were working models in the photographs. They could easily be mockups put together just to demonstrate the idea for the photo shoot.

The combination clothes/dish washer is something I've wondered about before. Why buy two large machines to do what is more or less the same job? You'd think it'd be possible to make one machine that can do either. I guess it's not so easy, or the idea would have caught on. I'm not sure why, though.

It's kind of weird that somebody saw the need to design a thing that dries out clogged salt shakers. I'm a pretty astute observer of the physical world, and I like to find out little bits of domestic scientific trivia, but I didn't know that glogged salt shakers were a big problem. Also, I didn't know that the problem was caused by moisture. So, I guess we need to invent a salt shaker dryer to take up space on your kitchen counter for 364 days out of the year when you don't need it. Well, actually, it seems we don't need that, or you'd see them in stores by now, wouldn't you?

And now for the real star of the show: the Asbeston ironing board. No no no. Don't say "asbestos"! Asbestos was already beginning to gain attention as Something Seriously Bad For You in the 1940's. Let's see if I can summarize why it's bad. Asbestos is a natural mineral that forms very long, very thin crystalline fibers that don't burn, which is pretty neat. Much less neat is the fact that, if you get them on or in your body, your body can't get rid of them because the fibers are too thin, and as a reaction, forms an inflammation that never goes away. On the surface of the skin, it forms warts around the asbestos fibers. In your lungs, it becomes mesothelioma and kills you in fifteen years.

Anyhoo, this ironing board is made from "Asbeston". See what they did there? They changed the last letter of "asbestos" into an N. So, it's really a totally different material that has identical properties to asbestos, but with a trademarkable name and probably none of the icky drawbacks of the letter S version of the stuff, as far as you know. So, you're ironing your clothes on a fabric called "Asbeston". Put on that shirt. Rub it on your skin. Breathe all you want, because there's no S!

Also great household ideas...

"Ebolan" Disinfectant Spray - Safe until we discover it in 1976!
Bright Bottom Baby Powder -  Now with "Uraniun", for a little extra comforting warmth!
Leprosyn Dish Soap - Baked on food just melts away!
Cancerol Pain Reliever - You only take it once!
Cirrhosin Country Ale - Embrace the inevitable... in Cirrhosin Country!

1/13/10

Union Carbide Car Seat - It's not like we're running out of babies.

Here's a partially safe car seat from 1963, brought to you in vivid halftone and no color, to de-emphasize the blood stains. Union Carbide, the company that pretty much invented the petrochemical industry, is now part of Dow chemical, who brought you Styrofoam and agent orange. Here's what happens when they first tried their hand at designing something to keep small humans safe.
Surprisingly, the Ever Soft car seat is mostly constructed from steel tubing and not so much from plastic, which would have been at least a little less "stabby-pinchy".

The following is excerpted from the Ever Soft information manual (Copyright 1962 Union Carbide, Inc.)
___________________

You'll notice the exposed hinges, where the Infant Restraint Barrier (IRB) pivots down against the Primary Seating Module (PSM) in a delightful scissoring action. Fortunately, babies aren't known for their curiosity and searching fingers or this would be a hazard.

Next, notice that the whole device hangs over the back of the car's seat. You may think that this doesn't provide much security in the event that you drive over a medium sized bump, but let's remember that this is the greatest country in the universe, and American roads are paved with cast iron that is leveled with a laser T-square, and they never ever degrade or form potholes. Don't say they do. What are you, a communist?

Moving on, you can see that the Infant Restraint Barrier (IRB, remember) is conveniently held in the upright position by a hook, during the critical Infant Insertion and Immobilization Procedure (IIIP). During transport, the hook remains up and out of the way, several inches above the child's skull, or Brain Containment and Command Module (BCCM). This could, in a less perfect universe, theorhetically be considered dangerous, except for the fact that American drivers are the most courteous, conscientious, and resposible drivers in the totality of the multiverse, and road accidents haven't been a reality since the Great Chariot Collision of 612 B.C. Also, let's recall that the Ever Soft is securely draped over the back of the seat, and can't possibly come loose, stupid.

___________________

Sadly, the Ever Soft car seat failed to sell well. In an attempt to recover some of their production investment, the Union Carbide corporation shipped the entire stock of Ever Soft car seats to Viet Nam in 1965, dropping them over Hanoi as part of the de-population effort. The casualties were hailed as "apocalyptic and glorious" by the Ever Soft development team.

1/11/10

Squirt - Good Staff Artists

I don't know if Squirt used staff artists or... actually, I'm pretty sure they just hired an advertising company who used THEIR own staff artists for this ad. Doesn't matter. There is brilliant work in here.
1954 was still the middle of the golden age of advertising mascots. Also, it was the golden age of advertising, in this irrelevant nobody's opinion. You know... post-war optimism and a healthy economy make for some upbeat, irrationally happy ads.

This ad features two very different kinds of mascot art: abstract minimalism and disney-style. The one at the top, with the inverted black/white colors is a beautiful example of the abstract drawing style from the 50's. He's got no hands or feet and his head is a teardrop. If you click on the close-up of him below, you can see that the line around his head is kind of chalky. I can't explain why that's cool, but it is.

The other mascot, down below, is squirt boy. It shouldn't be impressive, but he was actually drawn by someone who knows how to draw cartoon characters! Take a walk down the cereal aisle of your grocery store and you'll see monstrous examples of badly-drawn over-rendered characters. Too many lines, wonky posing, clueless line tapering, and lumpy, bulbous designs are par for the course. Squirt boy looks good! Of course, this isn't too surprising, since advertising artists were, as a rule, trained in illustration back then. Now, they're mostly technicians and it shows.

At the bottom is a great black and white painting of a happy fisherman enjoying some squirt. Ignoring all common sense that sugar water is terrible for quenching thirst (a fact that soda companies still choose to ignore to this day), I cna only guess that the man is included as a serving suggestion for the type of face you might choose to make while you're enjoying your own glass of Squirt. Also, there's a great, cheesy spot color added, just for some zazz.

1/7/10

Young Men Typists - Heh heh.

Why did Smith Corona feel the need to sell typewriters based on  helping young men get a job? Well, the ad ran in Popular Mechanics, I suppose. And it being 1940 and all, everyone knows that only men read Popular Mechanics. Strangely, though, you'd think that "everyone knows that only women type" would be the standard thought in 1940.

So, I guess we applaud Smith Corona with one hand only, for their progressive "anybody can type" philosophy, even if they're just trying to sell more units.

Their choice of head shots is pretty funny. It looks like they chose three young men who look like they couldn't drive a nail or hold a rifle to use as typewriter candidates. Did they choose extra-wimpy guys on purpose? "TYPING AIDS YOUNG SISSIES SEEKING OPPORTUNITY". Why not have a young guy with a beard and a duelling scar or an eyepatch? "TYPING AIDS YOUNG CONVICTS IN WRITING PAROLE ESSAYS"

It seems that, nomatter how hard they tried to be fair and non-prejudiced, companies in the old days couldn't help but be insulting and prejudiced.

I do like their use of quotes around the adjective "tops", as if the phrase had just been invented and they needed to use finger quotes when reading the copy to each other in the brainstorming session. Wait. Did they have finger quotes in 1940? When were those invented? That may be an interesting research project, if I can figure out how to research it.

UPDATE: Hey, guess what? Finger quotes can be traced back as far as 1927, according to The Phrase Finder, which cites a 1927 article in Science magazine...

"Some years ago I knew a very intelligent young woman who used to inform us that her 'bright sayings' were not original, by raising both hands above her head with the first and second fingers pointing upward. Her fingers were her 'quotation marks' and were very easily understood."

Here's the picture shown in the article on Phrase Finder. Hah! That's great.

1/6/10

Freezer Pedal - Hey, where'd that go?

Lots of things you see in old ads are really funny. At the time they seemed like a good idea, and it's not really fair to make fun of ideas from our vatage point fifty years in the future. (It's not fair, but it really is fun.) Sometimes I see something like this freezer door pedal that makes me wonder why the idea didn't catch on. Behold, the freezer door pedal.

I can't be sure, but I think one of our refrigerators back in the seventies (the fridge was probably a relic of the sixties) had one of these. The idea makes sense, right? A lot of the time when you go for the fridge door, you've got things in your hands (half eaten roast beast, bundles of cash wrapped in plastic, houseflies in a jar for a fun experiment). Why not have a steppy-pedal to make the door open for you?

Sometimes history is an idiot, I guess. Cars got really ugly around 2002 with their pointless creases and very pointy headlights, for example. Change is not always progress.

In other news, I love these old two color print jobs. They had money for an extra color besides black, so they splurged and paid for red. Now that's what I call pizazz! If you want to give your drawing a cool retro look, add some limited colors. Nice dreamy posing on the people in this ad, too.

Hey! Check it out. We also get a bonus disembodied floating head at the bottom.

1/5/10

Painless Dentistry - Or Hi-Fi Pelvis?

Joke#1: "Developed by a dentist in cooperation with an audio research firm, a machine produces sounds that soothe the patient and mask discomfort and awareness. One knob controls the volume of stereophonic recordings of children screaming, and the other brings in a special masking sound similar to the tearing of flesh. Other audio programs may be developed at a later date."


Joke#2: "Do you want more control? Sure. We all do. With the Flow-Motion menstrual regulator, you can dial your period back until the time is right for you. *Misuse of Flow-Motion can result in cranial hemorrhaging, esophageal hemorrhaging, oral hemorrhaging, aortal rupture, general metabolic failure, rickets, and impaired femininity."

Joke#3: "Sometimes it's just not 'dainty' to pass gas. But it is always funny. With the Private Moment III, you can share the joke with just yourself. After a quick, slightly painless outpatient procedure, the audio output from your normal everyday expulsions is discreetly sent to the headphone jack for you to enjoy. The 1/8" line out jack makes it easy to plug in a second set of headphones or to record the output for sharing. Details at whydoesntanybodytalktome.net.  Private Moment III - They won't know what they're missing!"

Joke#4: "RCA Victor has just announced an audio breakthrough. The E-Pod is a tiny personal music-device  for the enjoyment of music or other sound programmes anywhere. The main music storage device is stored in the base of a small dental chair, while the control-unit is held in the hands. One knob controls volume and the other also controls volume in case of failure of the first knob. Device holds six seconds of music or any other audio-programme material. Price has been set by RCA Victor at $12,000".

Joke #5: "By removing the nipples and placing them on a device worn outside the clothing, devout women can enjoy all the benefits of a rich, satisfying sex life without any of the sin associated with awful, disgusting nudity. God bless."


1/4/10

The Hall of Heads, Pt.2


Disembodied Floating Heads. Round two. FIGHT! Frank Sprayberry is up to his old tricks again with the radio and TV training ads.

Sadly, by 1957, he had stopped trying to coin the phrase "electronician", and just calls himself a "radio-television serviceman". Boo, Sprayberry. Boo! That's less funny! Also, he's decided to try and smile for the camera. Boo again. Disembodied Floating Heads are supposed to be creepy. Ask anyone. He's still cutting out his neck, so he gets some style points there, and at least his smile is crooked and his teeth are sort of snaggley. Better still if he just used the stern glare from his earlier ad. He feels like he's slipping. I do like his use of unnecessary hyphens in "no-obligation" and "no-risk". He still knows how to write copy.











But then there's J.E. Smith. Bam! Out of nowhere. No, wait. Out of the past. 1945! Nice attack! Sprayberry didn't see that one coming!





Hmm. he left his neck attached to his head. That's disembodied, but just barely. You can tell he's new. He does understand not to smile though. Nice smirk, Smith.

If you look at the lower right corner of his ad (click the image for bigger version), you can see his catalog features nothing but DFH's on the cover. Nice style!










And look! He's brought backup. He's got a posse of six DFH's behind him. Six television electronics apostles, including...


Sixty Dollar Al


 Norman "Beaker" Miller


and Ferdinand "Hair Tumor" Zirbel

Know what though? Quantity doesn't trump quality. Smith has energy, but so far Sprayberry's got the experience and weirdness to stay on top. I look forward to seeing more from you, J. E. Smith, but today, Sprayberry holds the title. Ding!