11/30/10

1961 Thunderbird - How you do it.

So yesterday's Rambler was a bit of an awkward mess (nobly debated by Dan). Today we get a screenfull of pretty. The 1961 Thunderbird. Click through the pictures and save for your very own.
See, Rambler? It's not so hard. Less is more. Clean, simple, uninterrupted lines. Small ornaments. Matching curves. The Thunderbird is made from mostly straight lines with wide angles, when a line needs to change direction. There aren't really any "unique" shapes on the car. Any shape you can find is repeated somewhere else. You could grab almost any of the angles on this car, and if you superimposed and rotated, it would line up pretty well with any other angle. The front wheel arch is nicely echoed in the nose of the car, right above the bumper.

It's how good design is done. You establish a small group of shapes, and use just those shapes to create your design through theme and variation. Your average mouth-breathing car buyer doesn't know this stuff, but they can spot it when it's done right. The Thunderbird looks graceful and the Rambler looks like it was designed over a lunch hour.

In '61, the car industry was still obsessed with The Jet Age, so this car still has some silly little tail fins, but they are just little ones, and while they'd look positively stupid on a modern car, here they don't offend because they're so small and the car is so huge.
The Thunderbird was a higher market car than the Rambler, but does a well-styled car need to be more expensive? I don't think that better ideas cost more money. You either have an idea or you don't. Industrial design is more complicated than that (what with the time constraints and an endless conga line of interfering douchebags), but I just think the Thunderbird looks like it was designed by one person, not by a table full of visually illiterate executives.

I may have to go find myself a little die cast model of this car to stare at it for all eternity.

11/29/10

Rambler V8 - Red, White, and Blow.

When flipping through an old magazine, any car ad gives your brain a little endorphin squirt. Shiny paint, big picture, etc etc. Upon finding this ad for Rambler, that little thrill is immediately followed by a stomach-clenching revulsion. This is an ugly car.

Rambler was formerly the brand of Nash motors, but as of 1954, it was owned by AMC (American Motors Corp.). This may be all you need to know, if you're one of the huge number of people who think that AMC's later models, the Gremlin and Pacer, are eye-hurtingly hideous. Now, I like the Gremlin and Pacer. At least they had a unified design that looked intentional, if arguably misguided. The Rambler V-8, on the other hand, looks to me as if it were designed by committee.

One board member liked the "new clean lines" of the sixties, while another wanted to see flips and flares. That's okay! That's what compromise is all about! We can do both! So, you get the kind of nose we see here.The line that comes forward from the front door handles ends in a sharp edge over the top of the grill. But, the little curve that spins off the front fender arches curves downward toward the bumper making the awkward "ear" shape that jives with the previously mentioned upper line not at all.

It gets worse with the station wagon model. The front half of the roof line is kind of arched, but the back half of the roof (where the luggage rack is mounted) is all straight. Wonky and ugly. The designer may have argued that the luggage rack needs the flat area to be more useful, but hundreds of cars since then have successfully included a luggage rack without making the back half of the cabin look like an afterthought.

I can agree that the Gremlin and Pacer are funny looking, but that's why I like them. The Rambler V-8 isn't funny looking. It's just fugly. I'd feel better about the ultimate demise of the AMC corporation if the Rambler seen in this ad was the attributed cause, not the goofy little cars they made in the 70s. Goofy isn't unforgivable. Design by committee should be punishable by death.

11/24/10

Staring nerds. Low-hanging caption fruit.


Joke #1 - "Nope. No problems here, Mr. Wurton. This one seems fine. Exactly which sperm were you having trouble with?"

Joke #2 - "It'll be fine, Gary. Just don't ask Sue to the prom until you get this thing back in your pants."

Joke #3 - Thanks to progressive educational reform, three high school freshmen carefully study a model of a blackhead.

Joke #4 - "Wait, wait, there's a little label here....'aim... away... from ...' Gosh, I can't make out the last word."

Joke #5 - Initially named "The Scrotoscope", focus testing showed that name to be unsettling. The boy's invention would finally make it to market as "The CrotchWise Looks-A-Daisy".

Joke #6 - "I dunno, Gary. Just cause it doesn't hurt, it doesn't mean you can pop it. I think you should go see the nurse."


Joke #1 - "Okay, one last try. The big hand's on the one, and the little hand's also on the one, which means that it's..............guys? ....Sigh. Let's try again after lunch."

Joke #2 "Okay, I have a class to teach. If that dial gets to six, come get me. If it gets to eight, come get me and I'll knock your heads together like coconuts."

Joke #3 - Three developers hard at work on the "boredom detector".

Joke #4 - Epitomizing the trend towards ever "chunkier" watches, Diesel's flagship 2011 design is unveiled to awed silence.

[ [ [ [ BEGIN TRANSMISSION FROM GUEST JOKE SATELLITE ] ] ] ]

Sue joked like so:

Photo #1 nerds - "Cough"

Photo #1 - Nerd 1 - "Dude, you swallowed this thing?" Nerd 2 - "No, but it was in me!" 

Photo #2 nerds - "no, no - trust me. The girls LOVE a guy focused on what all this means! Advanced Mechanics is a chick magnet!!"  --perhaps observing chick magnetism on chick magnetometer (Mgmt)

11/23/10

Synapse C64 Games - The beginning of greatness.

My gaming life began on those horrible Pong systems. You bought a console with a pair of paddle controllers, hooked it to your TV, and you could play Pong or one of it's variants, like "vertical pong" or "small paddles pong". This was still heart-stoppingly exciting, but now it's embarrassing to admit. Somehow a rectangle was more interesting than Johnny Carson if you could make it move.

The jump from "symbols" to - I'm going to drop a line of demarcation here - "actual graphics" was brain-explodingly amazing. After seeing little people on your friend's TV screen instead of squares made it hard to ever go back to your suddenly lame Atari 2600 version of Combat at your own house and pretend to be satisfied. This ad for Synapse games shows what I mean.

Yes, by the time the C64 appeared, the Atari 2600 was running much better software, thanks to Activision. But once one saw what the Commodore could do, you began to wish your dad was a stock broker douchebag so you could get one. Nothing else was close.

Pharaoh's Curse looks like a pretty standard platform game, but when you consider that this was 1983, the idea of a large scrolling environment to explore was pretty exciting. Pitfall II was a similar title available on the Atari, and I found the game so compelling, I drew a map of the entire game on graph paper and plotted out my path. The map was about three by four feet, with every enemy and pickup drawn in ridiculous detail. I felt like Columbus, charting a new world. The fact that it is immediately recognizable as a game whose basic functionality is still repeated more than twenty years later is pretty high praise.

Fort Apocalypse looks pretty damn good too, for 1983. It looks similar to Choplifter, which featured a lovingly animated helicopter that tilted perfectly as you swooped around rescuing little soldiers. This was a far cry from what had gone before, which was a square or worse yet, a flickery jumble of squares that game designers sheepishly hoped you would accept as a helicopter.

Protector II looks to be a pretty shameless copy of Defender, right down to the name. Plagiarism was rampant among PC game companies back then. I don't think copyright laws had caught up with the gaming industry just yet.

This generation of games reflects a certain point of maturity in the games industry. Games now needed to be produced by, at minimum, a two-person team, instead of just one programmer with no real art skills. A programmer needed to either be a part time artist or have an artist buddy help him out with his game. This looks like the beginning of specialization in gaming that still continues to this day. If you want a job at a game company now, "game artist" is a title that hardly exists. You are a concept artist, 2D animator, motion graphics artist, interface designer, 3D modeler, rigger, texture artist, or environment designer, etc. Often, companies will interview artists for a very specific role, not just "artist" I think the generation of games shown in this ad captures the point at which game companies had just begun to hire artists.

By contrast, look at Adventure, an Atari game from 1979. It was a groundbreaking game and featured many "firsts". First adventure game on a home console. First game to allow a player to manage an item inventory. First multi-screen adventure game. First hidden message or "easter egg" in a game. The easter egg was this: "created by Warren Robinette". He was a programmer that made the game singlehandedly, though he wasn't an artist. The genius of the gameplay is famous, but the art is still pretty funny. At the time, it was fine, because as an early Atari game, the console didn't have the horsepower to display any real art. By the time the C64 came to be, the computers were ready for artists.


11/22/10

Admiral TV's - Caesar, your television is ready.

In the 1940s, they invented machines, and everyone was excited. machines were decorated with swoopy lines and curves by the men who designed them, because the engineers were desperately horny virgins. In the fifties, people became used to machines, and they were allowed to be machines. Clean lines and simple shapes were the order of the day, as people celebrated the idea of modernism and their excitement for the wonders of the future.

Then, the slate sixties happened and everyone became an idiot. The era of "techno-shame" saw companies burying the mechanical partners of everyday life in wood cabinets with wiggly trim, as if the king of Spain commissioned the work.
Cabinet TVs were pretty bad, but this one has doors, so when you weren't watching one of the five channels, you could hide the hideous electronics behind barn doors styled after the liquor cabinet on the Santa Maria. This is bad, because in the picture, Caesar's wife was clearly hoping for a hot toddy before facing her thrice weekly "audience with Claudius". But all she found behind the doors was this strange glass bubble. Looks like she'll be facing the oafish advances of the Caesar stone sober.


Admiral wasn't always ashamed of their engineering. Other times, they merely wrapped their TV's in wooden curlicue-riddled boxes like The Jefferson, with the front scandalously visible for looking-at. Shameful! Of course, if the electronic ugliness ever became too much for the owner's sensibilities, Admiral dealers also sold the "TV Burqua", so you could hide the mechanized horror under a slitted veil.

In a well-intentioned "fuck you, minimalism" gesture to the fifties, Admiral also offered The Nording as a loving mockery of Danish Modern design, with vaguely modern legs under a cabinet more at home on the Ingalls' porch. At least the TV was made from nice thick wood "so's you could take cover behind it if'n the injuns come a-shootin." The ad copy claims it's "double-sided", but what that means is anybody's guess. Maybe you could use it to stick posters to the wall? It probably meant that it had a second picture tube on the back, so when the thing broke, you could flip it around and get another three months' TV enjoyment from it. After that, you could kick out the tube and use it to store your moonshine, just like Caesar did on the Santa Maria.

11/18/10

Honeywell Automation - Nice nerds!

Hey, nice nerds! Where'd you get them? 1966. Sure everyone in '66 looked like a nerd if they wore glasses, but the fact that these people are basically sitting IN a computer with the equivalent horsepower of a modern clock radio means they were on the cutting edge of computing for the time. Dig that keyboard with the round keys. I wish someone would make modern USB keyboards that looks like ancient keyboard of old. The closest you can come is an old IBM Model M keyboard from these guys. Yep. I've got one, and it's brilliant. But you can't do any typing after lights out because the noise will wake the neighbors. Practice the drums instead.
Anyway. Nerd jokes!

Joke #1 - "...and right here, the system has calculated the number one reason you're a virgin. This will be great. Hang on, let me get the P.A. microphone."

Joke #2 - "I know all the 'cool' kids signed up for my brother Alan's course, but I think we'll have plenty of fun, too. I'm professor Charlie Parsons, and welcome to my project."

Joke #3 - "See kids? Using our new computer lab, we've 'digitally encoded' the first three seconds of a Herman's Hermits song. Now all you have to do is go invent a dial-up modem and you can 'download' it in only four days."

Joke #4 -"Umm.... ten"

Joke #5 - "Hmm. Nope, Kent. Says right here that there's no way in hell she'll go to homecoming with you. That could have been embarrassing, huh?"

Joke #6 - "Hey, wow! You're pregnant! ...You can stop smiling now."

Joke #7 - "... aaaaand the answer is 'beep'."

Joke #8 - "... now just sign here, and bingo! You've both un-friended each other."

Joke #9 - "... and there's your recipe, stored safely. There. Wasn't that a fun afternoon?"

Joke #10 courtesy of Craig. Hat tip to you, sir! - "...and if you'll look at the printout on Line 2320, Dexter, you'll note that you've scored 'Flopsweat' on the ENIAC Love Meter, the most powerful Love Meter known to man."

11/17/10

DeSoto Fire Dome - Quickie.

Today's my day off, so instead of writing some jokes, I'll just post a nice big scan of a DeSoto ad from 1952. They brag about the "fire dome" engine. It's probably the same thing as a "hemi". I dunno. I like the loosely rendered people living in a cartoon world with their realistic car. These are no arbitrary art decisions. It keeps the focus on the car. Yellow is an odd color for a car ad. It doesn't show the shine as well as darker colors. Nice chrome.

What's in that cartoon duffel bag that Ken is putting in the back seat? Well, probably dynamite and anvils.

11/16/10

Elizabeth Taylor - Swell necking.

There's a thing in commercial art (not just art for advertising, but almost any art you get paid for) where the work of any artist is scrutinized more harshly than a photograph would be in the same situation. Yes, photographer's contact sheets are pored over with insane criticism, but when people know it's rendered, the threshold of "realistic" is much higher than reality itself. My old boss used to say "It doesn't have to be right. It has to look right." Case in point: Liz Taylor's neck.

This is a photograph of Elizabeth Taylor, and she's tilting her head to one side to look winsome or wistful or something with a "W". If this were a painting, the artist would be well advised to present the composition in sketch form first, because people would assume the neck angle is a mistake or an error in judgment. "He neck must be broken. Was she in a car accident?" But here's Liz, right as rain, tilting her head like crazy.


The P.A.G. Nomenclature Squadron has yet to devise a name for this "Tendency for Art to be Judged More Harshly than Photographs" (TAGMHP) thing, but the reasons it happens are not a mystery. People don't tend to question photographs because we still assume they're real. The Photoshop factor has eroded this a bit, but people don't tend to assume you sabotaged your own photograph in Photoshop to make a woman's neck look broken. They will happily assume you drew your sketch poorly, overshooting "winsome" and barreling straight into "crippled". This will happen even if you sketched the model in a perfectly plausible pose, if a bit of an awkward one.

The Ephemera Preservation Dept won't let me mangle a magazine just for the sake of taking it's picture, so I couldn't cut out the page. This ad was printed right into the cleavage of the magazine's binding. Actually, "cleavage" is a bit vulgar, isn't it? Ahem. This ad was printed right into the groin of the magazine's binding, and as such, the name of Liz's new movie is obscured. No matter. We can joke up some of our own.

"Elizabeth Taylor, co-starring in M-G-M's 'Cat on a Hot Tin Rickety Ladder' "

"Elizabeth Taylor, co-starring in 'Her Shoulder Whispered Sweet Secrets' "

"Elizabeth Taylor, co-starring in 'Dial M for Vertebrae' "

"Elizabeth Taylor, co-starring in 'Bury My Neck at Wounded Neck'  Lips by Max Factor, Eyebrows by Sharpie."





11/15/10

Doubleday Book Club - Any 3 Smuts for $1.

So, you're probably sitting there thinking "Dirty thoughts have always been part of the male mind, and women only started thinking dirty in the last thirty years or so." No WAY hose A!
The ladies love the smut*. This 1951 ad from McCall's wants you to join the Doubleday book club and get one of a bunch of smutty books every month for a dollar or something. Maybe the sex scenes are tame by today standards? "Her mouth was on fire for him, and she could feel his need for her, in his fragrant, well-groomed beard. Oh, such Vitalis!" I dunno, but "Shireen...whose ways with men would make even Amber blush!" leaves only a teensy bit to the imagination.

Sure, the titles and language are more veiled than your average porn movie, but that's not saying much. Men's smut is intentionally overt and blatant. Women's smut is more subtle, spelling out almost everything you need to know, and then letting the imagination fill in the one tiny last detail, so you don't feel as naughty, apparently.

Rid shampoo now cures disembodied
floating head infestations as well as lice!
Anyway, there's an interesting little art thing in this ad. Look at the space created inside the luxuriating woman's arm and head. She's the one over the book "Infinite(ly odd) Woman". The line along the side of her face is strangely geometric. It doesn't look right. If this were the era of Photoshop, I'd think the artist did a bad job cutting her out of a background. Click picture for biggerness.
Here's a little secret. Realistic paintings of people are nearly always always HEAVILY photo-referenced. This means that they take pictures of people in the pose they want, and then paint the picture of that exact photo, embellishing details and adjusting the pose while they do so. Nobody paints realistic people purely from imagination. Even if you can pull it off, it takes a long time and you probably have a deadline anyway. So, the line of that lady's head must have been that way in the photo reference. Still, I think she'd look more natural if there were some variation, like with the contour of her hair. And if she had an ear. Just my two cents.

*Just to be clear. There's nothing wrong with smut.

11/12/10

Italian Swiss Colony - Duck for Corky.

Today we feature a 1950 ad for the Italian Swiss Colony, which you may remember from their funny but sad post card. But today's ad is from Look magazine - not a mail-order commercial on daytime TV inbetween The Banana Splits and Squiddly Diddly, which is how I remember the "Itswico" as we used to call it.

There's a philosophy in advertising that all you have to do is get people to remember your ad. Anything else is irrelevant. This is often done with a picture, since humans evolved to dedicate a huge part of their brain to vision. The premise is that "You'll never miss with Italian Swiss". See? It Rhymes. That means you'll remember the name, too. And so, from all of this, we get cork dolls hunting ducks... presumably while drinking.

I'd imagine that a cork doll would have poor enough aim with a tiny shotgun, even while sober. Then add the element of delicious appropriate-for-any-occasion Italian Swiss Colony wine, and poor Corky's bringing home jack squat for the dinner table. Pity too, because one duck looks like it could feed a pair of cork dolls for most of the winter.

It's uncommon for wives to accompany their husbands on hunting trips, but there's Mrs. Corky, egging him on. "It's right there. Just shoot the thing, and we can go home!". Poor drunk Corky. Is there nowhere he can go to escape the nagging of the Missus?

Even if he did manage to bring down a duck with his tiny shotgun pellets and even if he did manage to drag it out of the water (which is probably where it'd fall), how would he get it home? He looks about twelve inches tall. Assuming he has a car built to his scale, the duck would have to go on the roof like the dead grandma in Vacation, instead of the hood, like a dead deer. That'd be like a human pulling a baby elephant onto the roof of his station wagon. Itswico wine must give you the strength of a hundred cork dolls. Now that's a slogan that would make me buy wine.

This ad reminds me of my Mom's neighbor - a guy a few years younger than myself, and a few feet wider than myself. He's a veterinarian and a duck hunter, which seems really bizarre at first. Then I thought about it. He probably just handles dogs and cats at his practice. He uses his two dumb-as-bricks dogs to hunt ducks. This guy really loves dogs and REALLY hates birds. Pity the poor parrot owner who brings their little buddy in for a wing trim. "Ma'am, your parrot is badly in need of being shot, temporarily fed to my dog, gutted, stuffed, and stuck on my wall. He'll be right as rain within two weeks. That'll be three hundred dollars. I try not to make eye contact when I see him out in his yard. A recreational hunter would have a tiny bit of my respect if he could march, unarmed and naked, into the woods and come out with a dead animal... even a rabbit. It should be a level playing field. Hiding in ambush wearing camouflage clothes, shooting at animals with a gun you did not design or build and probably could not repair. Well, that's just being a bully.



11/11/10

My Two Sons and a Whiny Dork.


Joke #1 - A rare production photo of Andy Garcia in his supporting role in the all high-waisted version of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Joke #2 - "Dammit, Colonel, people are going to DIE! Your new chicken recipe is TOO CRUNCHY!"

Joke #3 - "Father, if you think I'm going to let you walk out of this office wearing black socks with a white suit, you're out of your mind."

Joke #3 - "Now you listen to me, Dr. Gloom. Either you disarm those missiles, or I'll have Bertrand over there finish sitting on that whoopie cushion, and I don't think You'll like what happens next."

Joke #4 -  "Gary, I'm tired of having you in the family. It's time you were taught a lesson from your brother Cecil and someone I call 'new Gary'."

Joke #5 - The climactic "father's permission" scene from updated version of The Marriage of Figaro, Figaro and Figaro.


11/10/10

Antiques Creepshow - Figuratively freaky.

This morning, the Garage Sale Assault Squad brought me these photographs of actual relics up for sale at antique stores across the midwest. (Maybe the GARAGE SALE Assault Squad  need clarification on their job description?) The locations of the antique stores in question will be withheld to protect you from inadvertent ownership of these artifacts.

LOT #1 SOILED PORCELAIN CAVE MAN

From the mists of time comes a little porcelain sanitation worker. This cave man statuette was perhaps an idol from an ancient race of filth worshippers, or perhaps a sanitation totem, created for ritualistic cleansing ceremonies. His hair is worn in a matronly bun, indicating the civilization's reverence for his "caregiver" role in their pantheon. Clearly, the figure is an object of worship, as evidenced by the bedazzling, which can be seen in his eyes, earrings, and on the bone in his hand.

The seller seems to understand the history behind our little poopsmith, as shown by the princely asking price of thirty dollars. Surely he found a quick home at some local garbage museum or filth gallery after the picture was taken.

LOT #2  DRINKY BEAR

Our second feature is this delightful drunk teddy bear, ready to stagger into your heart and vomit down your aorta, mistaking it for a toilet. "Drinky Bear" was the mascot of a small chain of midwestern addiction centers in the sixties, and this example of Drinky is in fine condition, from his mismatched footpads to his baffling camel toe. Drinky's not dead yet! The "halo" is merely part of the art on the game box holding him up. If you bring hom Drinky, you can pretend the price tag on his wrist is a medic alert bracelet, alerting would-be resuscitators of his allergy to vivitrol. The only medicine he needs is your love! And bourbon!
LOT #3  HIDEOUS GOLEM HEAD



This hideous golem head was made by a wealthy Victorian child, who, at the time, was famous for being the youngest guest in the tower of London. Her crimes are lost to the pages of history, but her family could not be found for questioning atthe trial. During her incarceration, Mavis Wintburn created this golem head out of her own hair and sloughed skin material. She called the head "Auntie Innocence", and declared the head to be her solicitor for the trial. She made all her defensive arguments via the head, working the articulated mouth like a puppet. The jury found her guilty of Brain Failure and sentenced her to "a most unpleasant demise of our messiest contrivance". The head survived the trial and made two unsuccessful attempts for the office of Prime Minister. The head found it's way to America in the 1920's and is credited by some for causing the stock market crash of 1929 by dint of sheer evil. Since then, the head has been associated with the Nixon - Agnew campaign, and the Brown's Chicken Massacre.



11/9/10

Anacin - Relief for evil eyebrows.

Businessmen, housewives, evil scientists, do you suffer from tense nervous headaches brought on by your unfulfilled desire to take over the world? Sure. We all do. But did you know that, for your day-to-day megacrime-related aches and pains, Anacin is better than aspirin?

That's right. Anacin contains not one or two, but a combination of medically proven ingredients. Anacin acts to (1) relieve pain, letting you concentrate on completing your ultimate doomsday device, (2) calm nerves, making you much less likely to murder one of your own minions demanding to know why you are surrounded by fools, and (3) fight depression when some leotarded pansy manages to save the city by destroying your secret subterranean laboratory. And Anacin does not upset the stomach, even those lined with titanium, or those with a polycarbonate viewing window implanted in the abdominal wall.

Anacin does all these things better than aspirin...

-Does not suppress rage-related periods of monsterism.

-Clears the mind of contrition, mercy, introspection, cajolery, and other pathetic, weak human emotions.

-Does not interfere with hypnotic mind powers or laser eye-beams.

-Helps to shield the mind from outside influences like telepathy and mind reading.

-Helps to maintain clear, accurate clairvoyance.

-Acts fast to relieve pain without suppressing paranoia, suspicion, and veiled, boiling resentment towards even the staunchest of allies.

Anacin is available without an evil doctor's prescription, not because you probably are one, but because it's safe, and that's something you can count on for your whole sinister family. Keep some Anacin in your medicine cabinet in your underground bunker or hollowed out volcano, won't you?

11/8/10

More marvels of ingenuity, again.

More marvels of ingenuity today. Hurry back to 1948 and get yours now. Who knows how long supplies will have lasted?

This Convenient hand-held air horn was developed for the musician on the go, or those born without a mouth or head. Powered by a tank of compressed air, it allowed the user to create music as easily as firing a rifle. Lengthy performances, such as Wagner's Ring Cycle required additional air tanks to be recharged and swapped  by a roadie while the musician paused to argue with the director.

Mask heats face. Used to treat neuralgia, neubrunswick, and Excessive Dignity Syndrome. Alternate version soon available for the attractive.

11/5/10

Radio Truck


Joke #1 - Colonel! I'm getting a signal. Yes, I think the convoy is approaching. The trucks are getting veeeerrrry close now.

Joke #2 - The Bose Quietcomfort 3 headphones identify and reduce outside noise so effectively, this military personnel transport vehicle becomes nearly inaudible, so you can enjoy rich, accurate sound reproduction or silent tranquility. And while supplies last, each pair of Bose Quietcomfort headphones is shipped in this limited edition collectible military personnel transport vehicle.

Joke #3 - "This roast is so tender, dear. You must have marinated it for days. Can you pass the butter? Over. Ksshhhht".

Joke #4 - In response to unfavorable news leaks about the Foxconn factory where Apple products are manufactured under sweatshop conditions, Steve Jobs demonstrates the new American-made iPad tablet computer. Miniaturization has since become a problem.

Joke #5 - "Pancakes reported as fluffy and piping hot. Engaging syrup in three, two, one... engaging syrup now. Beep."

Joke #6 - Having abandoned the idea of small devices with high storage capacity, Steve Jobs demonstrates the new iPad, which boasts a generous 16 inch touch screen and holds over 2 gigabytes of data, easily housed in this convenient console and transported in this stylish truck. Battery is non-removable. Case not included. Cables sold separately. Does not support Flash.

Joke #7 - ...and for a limited time, each pair of Bose Quietcomfort headphones comes with a CD of engine noises from this military personnel transport vehicle, which you can enjoy without being disturbed by the engine noises of this military personnel transport vehicle.

Craig's addition:
Joke #8: Marvin Finkel demonstrates musical range of the DeuceandaHalfophone, an easily transportable musical instrument suitable for rock and/or roll.

11/4/10

Testing Apparatus

Joke #1 - Seen here in our PA department, the condom tester can wear -  and test - four prophylactics at once. Some of the guys call it "the luckiest machine in the lab".

Joke #2 - For the discerning hot dog connoisseur, our premium franks are precision extruded from the finest animal paste. Their ends are then machined to near mathematically flawless hemispheres. Our hot dogs deliver the purest cased meat experience, thanks to our continuing research in wienology.

Joke #3 - Our #26 Heavy Joint Pins are nearly complete. To optimize the metal's crystalline structure, they're about to be dipped into four of the six cryogenic bath receptacles to improve strength. Two of the cryogenic bath receptacles will not receive Heavy Joint Pins. That's because those cryogenic bath receptacles are uglier than the others.

Joke #4 - Seen here in our PA department, the condom tester can wear - and test - four prophylactics at once. Only in the last year have we had the technology for this machine to perform this test without our "back seat of an '85 Monte Carlo" simulator.

Joke #5 - Inside the development labs of the American Dildonics Corporation. Winner of the Chicago Chamber of Commerce's 2009 "most stolen sign" award. Previously held by Precision Enhancement Numerics Integrated Solutions.

Joke #6 - Here in the Hillshire Farms research kitchens, four juicy, savory experimental sausages are about to be dipped into sample reservoirs of our new "Temptacious" sauces. The tester will then manually eat the sausages and report his findings to the Deliciousness Panel. Personnel in this position are now rotated monthly, after numerous insurance claims associated with obesity, congestive heart failure, and Spontaneous Wisconsin Accent Syndrome, dontchaknow.

Joke #7 - A rare look inside the labs of the Suggestively Shaped Instrument Testing Facility at St. Immature University's Giggle Suppression Foundation.

11/3/10

Postum - Makes a man out of you.

There's a Simpson's episode in which Homer takes over Smithers' job as Mr. Burns' assistant. During a montage of Homer's failures in this capacity, burns can be seen spitting out a drink and shouting "You call this Postum?!" That was the first I'd heard about Postum. Then a keen-eyed associate from the Phil Are GO! Obsolete Foods Alert Squad dropped this ad on my desk. Hey! Postum! How bout that? Closely followed by "WTF?"
Postum was a coffee substitute manufactured by C.W. Post from 1895 to 2007, so you just missed it. Post, as you may know, was a misguided health wacko who believed coffee was "unhealthful" and things like electrocution, colonic irrigation, and sexual abstinence were good for you. A film called The Road to Wellville is recommended viewing. It features the Battle Creek Sanitarium, which was run by John Harvey Kellogg, but Post visited the place due to illness, and became a believer.

So, yeah... Postum. Coffee was scarce in World War II, and Post came up with this stuff as a "healthful" replacement.It was made from roasted grain and molasses, for the most part. The drink was hot and brown and tasted like....? Well, since the stuff can't be had any more, I had to search for descriptions of the experience. The best one I found was this:

"a sort a liquid burned toast with a hint of molasses flavor"

Yep. It sounds gross, but then I think coffee is gross, so can it be worse? I prefer my toast in toast form, and also non-burnt, so why would I choose to drink it? I drink coffee, but the way I prepare it, it's so heavily flavored with swiss miss or what have you, that it may as well be the five-dollar sissified stuff you get from Starbuck's... just way cheaper.

For the truly curious/courageous, I found a recipe to make your own. Somebody reeeeeally loves their liquid toast...
HOMEMADE "POSTUM"
1 qt. fine ground wheat
1 pt. coarse ground corn meal
1/2 c. molasses or dark syrup
Mix the wheat, corn-meal, and syrup. Rub them in the palms of the hand until it is well mixed. Put it into shallow baking pans and brown in a slow oven until it is a rich dark brown. It must be stirred often for even browning. Don't try to hurry the process or it will burn. When it is done, cool and store in a sealed jar or canister. Use like any cereal coffee. I use 2 tablespoons coffee for each cup and a half of water. It may be boiled or it can be made in an electric coffee-maker.With hot milk this makes a nice evening drink.
But look who drinks Postum! It's Mrs. Smeagol! Maybe she had such a hard time coming down off The One Ring that she's a little gun shy about addictive substances now? So, Postum it is, for the recovering Gollum in all of us. Hmm. She also could be President Eisenhower. Also Mr. burns.

And look. Bluto's attempts to disguise himself as a woman never fooled me in the Popeye cartoons, and they don't fool me now. Hmm. Could be Richard Kiel, too. In any case, that's a MAN, man!

 Looks like Postum puts hair on your chest after all. The boy in the picture? He's a two year old girl.

11/2/10

Institute of Applied Science - Be a scallowag catcher.

Attention, citizens! Are you tired of having your valuables burgled from your very person in broad-daylight? Are your jewels and victuals being stolen from your premises while you are away? YOU can become a Finger Print Expert at your home, in your spare-time, and put an end to these distasteful treatments!

Observe the picture of Operator 38, a metropolitan solver of mysteries and catcher of miscreants! Imagine the thrilling, mysterious life you could lead, after acquiring your training of a similar nature!

The Institute of Applied Science will train you to be a Finger Print Expert of Identification. Your confidential reports will be used to apprehend Scallowags, Villains, Pilferers, Scoundrels, Cads, Bounders, Ruffians, and Ne'er-do-wells.

Write for reports and free "Blue Book of Crime". Learn how YOU can frequent alleys, docks, public houses and neighborhoods of ill repute. Learn the arts of skulking, sneaking, peering, as well as the defensive science of pugilism!
Kit includes cane and mustache. Free cuff links!



11/1/10

Vic-20 - Believe your eyes.

Poor, poor computers. Due to the basic reality of Moore's law, the laughability of old computers progresses in direct proportion to the power of new ones. As much of a superstar the newest, powerfulest machine is right now, it'll be the butt of jokes in, say, twenty years or so, when someone comes across advertisements proclaiming it's power.

Those CAN'T be actual Vic-20 screens, you lying bastard! The graphics are hyper-real! Actually, they're not too bad for 1983, considering that your TV's remote probably has more computing power than a Vic-20.

Click the image to enlarge, and anyone over the age of twenty should be able to name the games being ripped off here. From left to right, they look like Galaga, Defender, Something with squares in it, and Donkey Kong Junior.

The airbrushed eyeballs at the top are pretty terrible. Remember how everyone in the eighties was convinced that airbrush was the ultimate medium? Here's an example of a bright-eyed young artist trying his hand at sprayed art. Ug. Shading human skin requires a lot of different colors delicately balanced. Lots of finesse. This guy painted some salmon orange color and shaded with brown. See the highlight on the right side of the nose there? Never spray white directly onto your base tone. You need to go through a yellowish color before you get to white or the white will look chalky and blue. Ah well, video games were a small industry back then, and Sierra probably didn't pay much.

Sierra On-Line is remembered with a moist eye by many computer game old-timers. They were a husband and wife team who made some of the greatest graphical adventure games like King's Quest. They took the classic text-based adventure game format (like Zork) and added graphics. Since text-based games made your imagination work to create the pictures, adding graphics to stories of similar quality was a big leap in immersion. Compared to pure text, graphics of any kind were mind-blowing. Sierra never leaned too heavily on graphics. They (almost) always emphasized compelling story telling.

So what's with these arcade game knock-offs? I think the popularity of games like Donkey Kong and Defender -  and the sweet sweet cash they earned -  were too tempting to ignore.