Philadelphia Electric Company - Heeeey youuu guuuuyys!

So, if a huge utility company runs an ad promoting an entire metropolitan area as a great place to be, what's in it for them? Maybe they owed a favor to the mayor? Maybe they were hoping to smooth things over after a few environmental "whoopsies"? Maybe they're hoping to grow the residential population, thereby growing their own customer base? Maybe they want people in The Future to have a hilarious jpeg of a misconceived notion of what science looks like? That's my working theory.

Let's begin by applauding the generally beautiful painting. I imagine the first meeting where the client is describing to the artist the concept for the piece they want him/her to create. Three scenes, portraying life in Philadelphia, each is kind of like a panorama, with multiple focal points. Science and research, an elementary school, and suburban domestic quietude. Also, we need it in a week. *Gulp*.

The backyard scene has some interesting features...

Who's playing with the dog? Who threw the ball? Err, nobody. The little girl is a few yards downstage of him, and she's not paying attention to him. She's busy putting her hands in the air like she just don't care. Maybe the ball rolled off the roof, or is stuck in the window?

Junior's got lunch covered. How thoughtful! He's made enough wheelbarrow pizza for everyone.

Grandma can be seen knitting a sweater for her driftwood collection. Philly winters are pretty cold!

Little Girl deserves to be distributed on transparency as a PNG. Coming right up.

Lastly, here's an extra-wide crop of the William Morris All-Stars pretending to be sciencing around. They're staring at various colored juices and writing things down. "Nineteen hundred hours. Juice is still colorey. Still tastes like hell". All men and women under forty look like Fred MacMurray and June Lockhart, respectively. The one older guy in the background, talking to the June Lockhart replicant looks like J. Jonah Jameson, who kind of seems to be in charge. Maybe they're trying to formulate a web solvent, to stop that wall-crawling crusader once and for all?

Great news, everybody! I didn't give any of you gonorrhea! Party at my place!


Crane Plumbing - Anything Goes.

"Hmm - Nancy's new bathroom. Good for her! it's nice to see her bouncing back and doing something fun, after that retinal surgery in Mexico. What was she thinking, dropping her keys in a tank of jellyfish and diving head first after them?

I think I'll take a look around while the rest of the Wednesday bridge club think I'm merely eliminating."

"Wish I had all this space. The lack of any frosting on the windows really opens up the room, and helps the neighbors admire my boobs. What's the point in cosmetic surgery if your neighbor's children can't see you naked?"

"My what a beautiful lavatory! Of course it's really a sink, but calling it a lavatory helps me fantasize about desecrating it with my waste."

"These faucets are so smart - so easy to turn - much easier than my sink, which requires captcha verification to be sure a bot net isn't washing it's hands in my bathroom... whatever that means."

"Such a lovely color for fixtures! I wonder when she's going to replace the tile to match them? Then she can look forward to tearing it all out when Pepto Pink goes out of style in six hours. That's our Nancy - never thinking ahead.

Click for bigness.


Hires Root Beer - Grayscale food challenge. Challenge complete!

Trying to get food to represent well in grayscale ranges from hard to impossible. This Hires Root Beer ad from 1963 shows us how it's done. Now I want a float.

Food needs color to look appetizing. This is almost always true. What I think Hires did here is take a photograph of a root beer float, and then have an artist paint over it. In the process, the artist was able to idealize the image, emphasizing the positive. All in all, it looks really good, especially considering it's a black and white halftone image.

I'm pretty sure the bubbles at the rim of the glass are fictitious. Also, the highlight on the glass was probably touched up to make sure it looked extra shiny. The striations in the ice cream dome ( from the scoop's scooping action) have clearly enjoyed some attention from the artist, too.

Wanna know a secret? Glass is usually transparent. But not the soda bottle. See where it overlaps the giant root beer glass? Ah well. These things weren't that easy to do in '63. The version of Photoshop available at the time was really primitive.

By the looks of the slogan, there must have been a jingle to sing along with the ad. No joy in digging that up, I'm afraid. But, here's an old FaceTube video for Hires root beer that must have run in theaters at roughly the same time. Different lyrics. Same rhyme. "Desires" and "Hires".

Check out the super cute root beer pixie! She deserves new life as clip art. Get your rude finger ready to right click her into your heart in a few seconds. Also, because you got an honest face, you can have her in JPEG and PNG flavors, with the PNG on a transparent background. You're welcome. Big and small. left and right. Coming right up!


Lux Soap - Workin' for the man.

In Advertising Land, everyone is a jerk or an idiot - hopefully both. This lady's husband (who kind of looks like Jimmy Fallon) is yelling at her because a run in her stocking is ruining his career. Jerk or idiot? Don't make me choose!

Apparently, John's boss is a big enough prick that he'd make career-effecting decisions based on his wife's stockings. Naturally, John is a big enough prick that he can forsee this and is wise enough to bitch out his wife for making her stocking tear. "You WOULD spring a run!" he says. Why? Does she have a history of jeopardizing his career with scandalous stocking mishaps? His choice of words implies that this is not the first time she has humiliated him in this way. More to the point, this is not the first time he's humiliated her like this in front of other people.

According to the narrative of the ad, Unnamed Wife naturally wants to make a good impression on the CEO of Prick Incorporated, just as her prick husband does. Totally overlooked is the idea that anybody needs to make a good impression on Unnamed Wife. That would just be crazy. After all, this is 1937 and she's just a menial servant. The farthest thing from John Gordon's mind is that he may be making a bad impression on his prick boss by treating his wife like a prick.

How humiliating would it be if Wife took the opportunity to tell John she was divorcing him and grabbed a cab home, locking him out of the house? He can sleep at the office, or maybe he can sleep with his prick boss, if he really wants to get ahead. Then, John could look forward to being served with papers right at his desk the next day while he's looking for a room to rent "while this blows over".


Video Pro Glove - It must be gone for!

Video Games magazine, 1983. Gamers receive a glimmer of hope for their sore, blistered palms: the Video Pro Glove.
Designed by mother and video game outsider Carmel Delaney, it was meant to protect the tender palms of 1983's game addicts. Clearly, the obvious need for such a product is demonstrated by the widespread use of gaming gloves we can observe here in The Future. Wait a second. I've just been informed that nobody wears gloves to play video games. Oh well. People aren't always ready for The Next Great Idea.

This is not to say that people have stopped trying to sell us video gaming gloves. Far from it. However, Delaney was so far ahead of her time that those whose time she was also ahead of are still ahead of their time. That's a lot of time-aheadness. She was a visionary.
Video Pro's primary off-label application: beating up Daniel-San.
 A year after the Video Pro Glove was released to a baffled public, the gloves found a home on the hands of Johnny Lawrence, noted Prell user and super-mean leader of the Cobra Kai gang. Their motto was "No mercy... except perhaps for your blistered hands! But definitely no mercy for split ends!"

The metal edges underneath a standard banquet table are rarely de-burred.

After losing to Daniel Laruso in the All Valley Karate Tournament, Johnny became Greg Tolan and took up competitive food spilling (ESPN 3, most Wednesdays at 2:30 am.), eventually locking horns with Rick Morehouse in the cafeteria. Again, he looked to the Video Pro Glove for protection during Critical Bullying and Narrative Exposition Events (CBNEEs).

So really, just like the iPhone, duct tape, and electric scalp massagers, the Video Pro found a role in society beyond the original intended purpose. This is the sign of true genius. Carmel Delaney is one such genius. Maybe there's a little Carmel Delaney in all of us? Don't you think? No. Definitely not. ...Or is there?... No.


Alexander Smith Carpet - Understanding your teen.

Being a young adult isn't easy. School-work, friends, pantomime, carpet. How can all these things fit in just one brain? That's why we at Alexander Smith make it easy for you to give your teen the one thing they really need at this magical time in their life: carpet.
You know, your teen-ager lives in a show window too, just like you do. The most important thing in their life is what others think of them, just like you. When he or she says "Come on, let's go up to my room! It's all carpety up there!" with pride, you know they're happy. Happy because carpet.

And just what do they get up to in their room? Oh, all sorts of things, but nothing that will surprise you. You were once their age, too, right?
But don't peek in on them. They like their privacy! If you poke your head in, perhaps to offer them ginger snaps, they'll pretend to be shielding their eyes from the mono-centennial curtains and matching couch. They don't want you to know that they're practicing a little show for you, by pantomiming along to their favorite Marcel Marceau record. It's just their little way of saying "thank you" for the wonderful carpet that has transformed their lives. Don't ruin the surprise! The refreshments can wait. You're happy enough just knowing that they have Alexander Smith carpet in a smart shade of Opera Red that will hide wine or blood stains as if they never happened. Oh those teen-agers!

Click for enbiggenment.


The Windy Bishop

Joke #1 - "...So I sez to the man 'If this is your Chaucible and Surplice, what's your wife wearing????' ..... .... I said 'IF THIS IS YOUR...'"

Joke #2 - "...Now, I don't want to say that Father Norbin likes to molest kids, but we can't seem to recruit enough altar boys to support his molestation habit, if you know what I mean! Ha ha ha ha! And now, it gives me great pleasure to introduce... Father Norbin!!!"

Joke #3 - "...and so, if you think about it, any birth prevented by abstinence is pretty much the same as killing a baby. So, therefore, I think you'll all agree that it is favorable in God's eyes for us to all to stop violating the sixth commandment and begin.... Wait! I'm not finished yet!"

Joke #4 - "... and this Tuesday evening in the rectory we will be viewing the film Krull synchronized with Bach's cantata Lobe Den Herrn, meine Seele. I think you'll agree the film's cut points are too convenient to be coincidental. Wednesday evening, we will be playing the video game Krull, as usual. I think you'll all be blown away by my new technique on the avalanche screen."

Joke #5 - The first and last use of Mad Libs to open the day's events at an Ecumenical council.

Joke #6 - "Before we begin, I'd like to invite you all to help me solve today's Jumble. It's really hard. The letters are..."

Joke #7 is courtesy of your friendly neighborhood Anonymous 2. Thanks, A2!The council meeting was almost over, they were all excited and ready to leave for the Scouting Weekend Trip, when Father John had to bring up the fact that he still thought his Chili should have won the Rectory Cook-Off & wanted to know what he could have done better.

[Commenter jokes will be added to the post.   -Mgmt.]


Around the House - Handyman tips from 1941

The American Magazine had a DIY column in which readers shared their tips for home improvement. Reading this column, it's amusing to note that, apparently, there was a housing shortage back in '41. That's adorable.

One other interesting note is the bit about waterproofing your awnings with a mixture of gasoline and paraffin. I imagine it worked, but I'd be surprised if your Helpful Hardware Man or Home Depot Drone would ever advise a customer to do this. In the process, you've got a pretty decent accelerant all over your garage, and even after the project is complete, a canvas (I think) awning soaked in wax would pretty much amount to a huge candle. At least they advise you to keep smokers away while you're working.

The illustrations in this article make for nice clip art. I've scanned them and contrasted them into clean black-and-whiteness for you, our beloved readers. The ultra-deco handyman guy at the head of the page deserved even more than mere jpegging, so he's also available as a vector file, for those of you who can make use of those. Blogger doesn't allow posting of direct file downloads in any vector formats, so email if you want it sent to you as an attchment. The EPS version is 318K and the AI  is 91k.

Rude Finger Graphic Gifts coming up in three, two, one...

Click for huge.


Smith Brothers Smokers Drops - Treat the symptom.

Even though dad smoked my whole life, as well as several relatives, I'd never heard of "smokers drops", which apparently are not cough drop and not a candy. Smith Brothers says that they restore taste buds "dulled and faded by fatigue". What if my taste buds are wilted, and in dire need of restoration? How would I know? I need some of these, right away!
It seems that smoking dulls the sense of taste. The P.A.G. Research & Googling team was able to find lots of articles that insist this is true, but you can also find articles on the web about the health benefits of an all-monkey diet. WebMD is usually pretty responsible about this stuff, and they have an article referencing a study from the journal BMC Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders. So far, the BMC journal has never lied to me. It's the basis of our relationship. Here's some medical mumbo jumbo on the subject from my old pal BMC Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders:

“Smoking is an important factor which can lead to decreased taste sensitivity.”

If you like eggs, pizza, ice cream or Indian food, this is not good. However, if you're into durian or lima beans, this is great news, and those foods should be served on a bed of cigarette garnishes. Blunting the eater's enjoyment of these foods can only enhance the eater's enjoyment of these foods.

As I recall, a few (but not all) of my formerly-smoking friends have told me that their sense of taste gradually improves after kicking the habit. So, how did Smith Bros Smokers Drops work? They don't say. Hmm. To the internet!!! Disappointment. All Google has to tell me is that I can buy this ad from a number of auction sites for anywhere from ten to sixteen dollars. Who would buy a magazine that has survived fifty years in a basement or library storage room, only to cut it to pieces and sell the pages? Hmm. That's pretty good money. Still, in ten years I'll still have the magazine to flip through, and the pages will be even more valuable by then... unless time travel were to someday devalue all antiques by making it cheap and easy to buy them. I'd look like a fool. But if time travel were ever to be invented, wouldn't we have been visited by people from the future already? Hah! Screw you, AdsPast.com and your magazine-mangling craft! I'll continue to hoard my investment, and when the time comes, I'll stop by your headquarters in my solid gold helicopter to flaunt the fruits of my financial wisdom - if you're still in business, losers!

FDA regulations were different in 1958. Smith Bros probably weren't even required to prove that their "Smokers Drops" actually worked, or how they worked. If you think it's tricky researching a current product's efficacy, try finding reliable tests on a fifty year old product, from a time when companies could claim whatever they wanted with no evidence at all. You think this is easy? Come over here and say that!

Smith Bros. only mentions a "special medication", and uses a lot of mint-related imagery on the packaging. I'd imagine it's some kind of effect similar to a breath mint. You know how water feels extra cold if you drink some after eating a mint? These "smokers Drops" probably worked  via some mechanism kind of like that -one that temporarily increases sensitivity of the taste buds with contrasting flavors, readying them to be pummeled once again by a wildly different flavor. Other analogy: drinking orange juice after brushing your teeth. Exposing the taste buds to two very different flavors in succession will make them more distinct, by contrast. It could be that Smokers Drops contain ingredients that are very distinct from that of cigarette smoke, making your next cigarette more "cigaretty". This is conjecture on my part. I've done no tests of Smokers Drops.

Any readers with smoking experience are invited to share their experience on this subject in the comments.

YouTube link to TV host Andrew Zimmern having a little durian. Shuttle to 5:41.

Click for enbiggenment.


Window Shopping - Perfectly innocent.

Joke #1 - Father Florn was beginning to feel at home at his new parish, the "troubles" at his old assignment fading into memory. He was so optimistic about his new post that he decided to take a few of his favorite students out for an afternoon of window shopping after Sunday school. That sounded safe. There was no way he could be tempted doing that, right?

Joke #2 - In the immediate postwar years, America rolled up her sleeves and got back to work, but always with an eye towards economy. Small business owners cut down on monthly supplies by cleaning their windows with hard-wearing, extra-absorbent children for a streak-free shine.

Joke #3 - "No! We're almost home. You can both hold it till we get there. Hollllld it in. Keep hoooldiinnng!

Joke #4 - One of America's most obscure fetishist minorities, the "building humpers" feel the need to begin training their young at an early age.

Joke #5 - For those times when you need a little extra reach, try Kid Gloves! Available in small, medium, and awkward teen.

Joke #6 - Alec Baldwin's ongoing frustration with the ever-present paparazzi.

Joke #7 comes from Anonymous2. Thanks anonymous2!John's new "Ass-Puppets" got him into more trouble at the Five and Dime then he'd bargained for. "I guess they just don't understand my sense of humor", he told the officer putting him into the squad car. "Is it me?".

[Commenter jokes will be added to the post.    -Mgmt.]


1974 Mazda RX-4 - Stop your grinnin' and drop your linen.

Know what's better looking than a 2011 Mazda? A 1974 Mazda RX-4, that's what! This ad from the December '74 issue of Car and Driver proves it.
It kind of looks a little Challenger-y, but then everything did, back then. It's got the headlights pushed back into a chrome-surrounded cowl and a nice fastback-style rear. Also, the aluminum lace wheels are perfect for the car. It makes you wonder how we got to where we are now with Mazda styling. What do I mean? Let me show you.

Here's a 2011 Mazda 3 series. My god, I hate this thing. Mazda thinks the front end is cute and charming. Lots of people call it a "cheshire cat grin". I call it juvenile and retarded. The grilles and intakes on the front of a car should indicate where a grille or intake is located. Mazda  violated all of this when they pretty much painted a grin on their car with black plastic. That grin? only the bottom third actually lets air in. The second picture with the blue car shows this in clear detail. The upper part of the "mouth" and the "dimples" on the sides are just decoration. All in all, this is what you'd get if you asked a five year  old girl to design a car for you.

Disclaimer: The Mazda 3 is a stylish, reliable car and everyone should have one.

The 1974 Mazda also has a "Wankel Rotary Engine". Off the top of my head, I can't think of another widely produced engine that's as vastly different from the ordinary type of engine. Most engines have pistons that turn a crank that makes the wheels go. This constant reversing of direction (pistons moving up & down) can be considered "wasted energy", from an engineering standpoint. A rotary engine has a... umm... "triangle" that basically spins around and around inside a kind of oval-shaped chamber. With no parts that need to move, stop, reverse direction, and move the other direction thousands of times per minute, the rotary engine has far fewer moving parts than a piston engine and can spin much faster, with less vibration. This should indicate a fundamentally superior deign, but it never seemed to get perfected like the piston engine. It's always been a bit of an oddball engine design that's also terribly clever. It should be mentioned that the 2011 model pictured above has a normal piston-type engine, as well as the entire current lineup of Mazda models.
Rotary engines generate more power for their size, but get surprisingly bad gas mileage. Also, they've always had problems leaking oil. This may be part of the reason Mazda dropped the design in 2011 - a move that made lots of people sad, because of the cult following rotary engines enjoy.

The desirability of the rotary-powered 1974 Mazda must be weighed against the trouble of owning the "uncommon" power plant along with the super cool chassis. At least when it does break down, it won't be grinning at you like an idiot, prompting you to simply abandon it by the side of the road.

Click for hugeness.