Jotto - The solution to a sedated Santa.

Some of you may be traveling for Honnuchristmaquaanzadan in the next few weeks. If you'll have the company of another human, and are permitted to speak to that human, then you won't be traveling as part of a maximum security prison transfer! Kudos! Also, you may want to try playing this game we found in an Esquire Magazine from 1957 to pass the time. Try playing Jotto.

What's that you say? "You mean Giotto, one of the architects of the Italian renaissance also designed word games? LIAR! I will kill you, and I shall feast on your marrow! GRAAAH!" Is that what you say? Well, there's no need to murder me. It's "Jotto". Not "Giotto" Nobody's going to eat anybody's marrow.

Aaaanyway, the Jotto logo features some really great typography. To make your own version, start with some irregular trapezoidal kind of shapes and use Wide Latin as the font, then make everything tilty. See?

So what's with Santa popping Valium? No idea. Is Jotto implying that Jotto is relaxing? I suppose it could be. If you're a mythical holiday mascot, and need to take the edge off after a long day's mascotting around, you can try Jotto for yourself, and you don't need to buy Jotto to do it. Observe...

-Both players think of a four-letter secret word with no double letters. Ironically, "Jotto" won't work.

-Players take turns guessing each other's word. When a player makes a guess, the opponent tells the guesser how many letters are correct.

-The guesser is only told the NUMBER of correct letters, not WHICH letter, or WHERE the letter is in the guessed word, or the secret word.

-The letter doesn't necessarily have to be in the correct spot to be revealed as correct. This is why you choose four-letter words - there's a lot to keep track of in your head, and as everybody knows, you only have about seven slots in your short-term memory (Stupid lousy tiny theta cycles!).

-The first person to guess the other's word wins.

If you want to get fancy, you can use longer words, which is probably what the little booklet is for. You'll want to keep track of words you've guessed.

My friends and I used to play "The Alphabet Game" while waiting in line for things, like roller coasters, or maximum security check points. Basically, you choose a topic, like "bands from the 1980s". You then take turns thinking of examples starting with A, and proceeding through the alphabet. There's no penalty if you can't think of one, other than shame. With me and my friends, the coin of the realm was always cleverness, and having no ideas was worse than being penniless, since ideas can be used to acquire pennies.

The alphabet game is way easier than Jotto. It was not very challenging unless you chose a weird topic like "astronomy", or even worse, "renaissance people". Eff that. So, it's pretty much just an easy time killer, like when you're on a long car trip.

Ironically, playing Jotto in your head with more than four letters may lead to Mind Injury, and the desire for chemically-assisted relaxation, just like Santa. Hm. Alphabet game: Prescription drugs. I'll start by saying "adderall". Your turn.


Little Ads - The Return of Even More Gift Ideas.

Should have been posted last week in our hard-hitting expose' on the Frivolous Mink industry, Mink toothbrush. For very very very very very very very sensitive teeth.

Jeweled cork, with card: "For the Hole in Your Head". For the personal abuse fan on your Christmas list. See also Spangled Nail File with inscription: "You're a Prick and Everybody Hates You."

Tee-PJ's, for some reason. Also sold as the "Fella Frock", and "Dude Dress". For the modest man, so nobody will see his panties. As endorsed by Kevin Nealon, apparently.

No, not available in "no balls" version, so stop asking.

Useful for spying on Dar, The Beastmaster. For evil purposes only. Not burning stick resistant. Manufacturer not responsible for ferret bites, tiger scratchers resulting from spying on Dar, The Beastmaster.


Altec Lansing - Fidelity so good, you won't notice your bones.

Believe it or not, there was a time when spending more money on your audio system bought you better fidelity, not just more massive bass at the expense of all other concerns. This 1957 ad from Altec Lansing shows us a woman so enraptured with the music she's hearing that she doesn't mind the ridiculous pose that the art director has asked her to contort herself into.

My smartyphone has a "feature" that I can't hide or disable completely. It's "Beats Audio" by a famous hip-hopper who wants us to call him "Dr. Dre". "Beats" is basically some shielding for the audio components in the phone, coupled with a one-button equalizer that cranks up the bass,  tailored for certain kinds of music. If your phone was designed right in the first place, you shouldn't be hearing any buzzing or hum in the phone jack anyway. So, it's pretty much a non-adjustible EQ for people who don't know what an equalizer is, don't know how to use one, and don't want to know. Heroically, Mr. Dre has decided what equalization setting all people should like, patented it, and marketed it. If you like jazz or classical or anything other than hip hop, fuck you.

Sure, you can turn off the Beats feature, but any time you start playing any audio, the grayed-out Beats icon appears in the notification bar, letting you know that your beats feature is disabled, just in case you come to your senses and want to turn it back on. Thanks, "doctor".

The demand for such a feature stems from the fact that an entire generation of kids have grown up listening to super-compressed music played on horrible computer speakers or in clapped-out Hondas with subwoofers that rattle the trunk lid. Fidelity is a closed book. Preferably, fidelity is also a burned and buried book. You can no longer go into a store and listen to a pair of headphones before you buy them. When I asked one sales drone if I could try out a particular pair, he looked at me like I asked him for a moist hug. I went to a store that grudgingly let me open the box and gingerly place the ear cups on my head, with tissues protecting the earpads, predicated on the fact that I would buy them if I liked the way they sounded. I really enjoy being made to feel like a jerk for wanting to sample the basic functionality of a product before committing to buying it. I guess there are also some people who buy a car after just looking at it, but I tend to drive one before I decide to take it home... especially in a marketplace crowded with so many wretched cars and garbage headphones.

This Altec Lansing ad comes from a time when words like "clarity" and "transparency" could draw customers to your brand. Good times. Apparently also at this time, or at least in the fantasy world of advertising, if your stereo was good enough, it could make a hot woman in a black cocktail dress do that with her spine. What the hell is wrong with her skeleton?

I know she's supposed to look rhapsodic, but it looks painful. Look at her feet, her spine, and her right arm. These otherwise crippling injuries have been totally mitigated by quality audio.  She's positively noodley with pleasure. Man, that must be some sound system. It better be, for $1600, which is about $12000 in modern money. Holy hell.

Note to self: have an intern trademark "noodley with pleasure". I may start my own brand of cigarette... or equalization. Unlike beats, my equalization technology will have settings for many types of music, not just one. Turn it to "hip hop", and the unit switches off. I figure that market segment is already being well-serviced.


"I was watching the DuMont last night..." - A TV set for the horsey set.

In the Simpsons episode Simpson and Delilah (the one where Homer grows hair with the help of Minoxidil), Mister Burns says something weird  when emerging from the executive bathroom at the nuclear plant:

"Oh, hey ho, men. You know, I was watching the Dumont last night, when I happened to catch a fascinating documentary on Rommel, the Desert Fox..."

So what the hell is a DuMont? This is the hell a DuMont.

DuMont was one of the earliest television manufacturers. DuMont laboratories was founded in 1931 by Allen B. DuMont, and by 1938 has developed the first all-electronic TV set. Apparently they were pretty darn good for the time. The trouble with being the (nearly) first TV manufacturer is a serious shortage of content. So, DuMont opened a few "experimental" TV stations on the East coast around WWII, with some funding from Paramount Pictures. With money being a constant problem, DuMont was forced to expand onto UHF, which even then, was already the ghetto of the TV spectrum. Sadly, the network folded by 1956, despite being a pioneer in many ways. Even though you've probably never heard of the DuMont network, you may have heard of some of their programming, like Arthur Murray, Ernie Kovacs, and Captain Video.

A thousand years ago, I worked at a video post house, where we had a portable VHS deck with a tiny monitor built into it, for reviewing tapes and logging footage. We called it the DuMont, despite there being no badge or identifier on it anywhere by that name. I have no explanation for why it was tarred and feathered with that title, but there must be some kind of connection. Google finds no sign of DuMont still making video equipment in the 1990s.

This ad was lovingly scanned by the Images and Scanning Them Squad from an issue of Fortune magazine: the publication of the Monopoly guy. If you had a TV in 1949, you were doing all right for yourself. For about a thousand bucks (about 10,000 of today's dollars), you bought the privilege of peering into a cabinet at a 20" screen. Of course, color was still a dream.   So what are the blue bloods in today's ad all dressed up to watch? Steeplechase, of course. There's a reason they call them the "horsey set".

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More Gift Ideas - Mink means "frikkin classy"!

Know what says "I'm frikkin classy and shit"? If your answer was "Sensible investments to provide for the long term stability of my family and enjoying a predetermined allotment of my wealth within the boundaries of tasteful restraint.", then your answer is an idiot. It's mink, baby! Nothing tells the world you've arrived like peeling the skin from cute furry animals, not for practical reasons like warmth or survival, but to feed your sense of tacky abandon. Mink me up, baby!

If you think your butt cheeks are warm enough sitting on your imitation fur toilet seat cover, you're not thinking luxuriousfully enough! You call yourself rich? Shut up and get a mink one! Also, punch your butler because you can.

Wait. It only covers the lid, not the seat? And you can't really sit on it while takin' care of bidness? Get it anyway. You've already got your giant checkbook out. hey, wait. Know what tells everyone you're classy and rich? Sitting on the lid and taking a dump right on the mink doohickey because you don't care! Also, you're probably still drunk from all that cognac you drank out of the bathtub.

Sure, if you're really rich, your butler probably makes all your drinks, but you just punched him and he's restingyou'll want to do it yourself when you get these mink bar whatchacallems. Bottle opener and stopper shaped kinda like ladies, with mink trim. Too bad the stopper is bottle-sized and not bathtub-sized, because, you know, that's what you drink from.

Mink clothespins are nice, but that's only halfway classy. Glitter? Now you're talkin'. If your lady asks why she still does the laundry if you're so rich, just punch her. That'll show her who's classy.


G-E Home Freezer - Freezing... at HOME!

Yep. As with all things that once were impossible, there was a time when freezing food was such a technological marvel that it was a family occasion. A regular food-freezing hootnanny. Good times, back in 1949.

But remember - in 1949 it was only1949. That was the year that somebody built NATO, some guys invented West Germany as well as the people's Republic of China. Also, Africa decided apartheid was a great idea. Hey! There's more! Britain recognized the independence of Ireland, putting an end to that whole rigmarole forever, right? Right? Right. Jeez. Maybe freezing some asparagus really was a kooky distraction?

"Even with all our 'spare-gus and brockly, and there's still
room for that hobo that daddy ran over!"
And with their wonderful new "home freezer", this family will have enough asparagus to keep their pee smelling weird all year long! Hm. "Home freezer." I wonder how long people used that term before just calling it a "freezer" became normal. When computers were new and exciting, people used to say "I'm getting a home computer" without meaning that the computer would be as big as their home. Now you just say "computer" if you're feeling relaxed and not particularly rushed. Mostly, you just say "PC", like you don't have time to sit around all day pronouncing things. Did anyone ever say "home television"? Probably not, because the TV pretty much debuted as a consumer device intended for the home. Did we ever say "home automobile" or "home bathtub"? I guess not.

But, the names of things definitely get shorter as they become more familiar, don't they? "Horseless carriage" becomes "automobile" which becomes "car". "Velocipede" becomes "bicycle" which is now "bike". "Pizza pie" became "pizza" which is now simply "food".

Here are some things that we can look forward to saying more quickly in the future...

-"Home cyclotron", as in "You can irradiate your wart in the 'tron, but until I'm done with the hair dryer. It always blows a breaker."

-"Home gas chromatograph", as in "I need to work tomorrow, I'd better decaffeinate my yogurt in the GC or I'll be up all night."

-"Positive displacement liposuction aspirator", as in "Are you done with the Dyson yet? Tad will be here in 20 minutes and I need to lose three pounds."


Barcalounger - So that's a Barcalounger.

Barcaloungers are a standard reference for comedians who are trying to make grandpa jokes or something, but I've never seen one, until now. My dad always had a La-Z-Boy. What's the difference? Not much, apparently. But there it is.

And now we know where that weird bluey-greenish color came from. 1957 or thereabouts. I'm sure I've seen carpet in this shade of not-blue-but-not-green, but I can't remember where.

I... Hey, what's with the girl holding up the sign? "Guess who wants you to live forever?" That's only slihghtly better than "Don't die." Thanks, sweetie, for reminding daddy of his inevitable mortality in your adorably innocent way... on Christmas. Mommy probably helped her make the sign, stapling the cardboard to the stick and everything. I guess Mom didn't see it as being a bit weird. Daddy just forces the smile, and gradually his new Barcalounger starts to feel like a casket.

Barcalounger was thoughtful enough to include some serving suggestions for ways that Daddy could pass the time while he's waiting to disappoint his daughter by dying. That was nice of them.

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General Electric Gift Ideas - Tag, you're gifted.

Ever the non-stop party company, General Electric has loads of gift ideas in 1957... all of them practical and sensible. Nothing to get excited about, until you shuttle forward in time about fifty years when all this stuff looks really cool. I'll take the G-E Techron Shining Hours Clock.

And for all of you good little girls and boys, the P.A.G! Graphic Blandishment and Photoshoppery Squad has lifted the friendly lady in the santa-colored catsuit from today's ad and wiped out the text in her tag, so you can re-purpose her as you see fit. She comes in two sizes: large 1000 px width and smaller 400 px width, facing left and right on a transparent background. What sort of festive holiday things might she say to your friends or family this Pointy Tree Day season? Maybe something like...

-"I'll keep my lawyer off your back until the new year. Merry Christmas!"

-"Thanks for the blender. Enjoy sleeping on this comfy couch. Merry Christmas!"

-"I wish I'd gotten you something. Thanks for the Herpes! Merry Christmas!"

Click through each for the actual size. You're welcome.

1000 px.

1000 px

400 px

400 px

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Coty Perfumes - We found the entwives.

If you read The Lord of the Rings - and if you did, I'm sure I played Dungeons and Dragons with you in grammar school - you prolly remember that Treebeard (the tree-guy, duh) talked about "the Entwives", asking the halflings if they'd ever seen any "entwives" in their part of Middle Earth. Apparently they went missing at some point. They were probably burned with their gardens by Sauron in the War of the Last Alliance.

These freaky tree-ladies are probably supposed to be wearing Christmas-tree-shaped dresses, but all I see is Entwives. They also kind of look like Suzy Snowflake, which was an animated short from 1953 Suzy Snowflake is a weird Christmas fairy type of thing, and she floats around the rooftops putting frost on your windows. No word yet on whether she also does window tints. Anyway, the singing in that short is all creepy "wooOOO oooooOOoooo" harmonies and sends shivers down my spine. It's frikkin weird, and as such, I like it. WGN runs Suzy, as well as the other holiday pieces by Centaur Productions, Hardrock, Coco and Joe and Frosty the Snowman. Press play for a 2:36 slice of weirdness. Maybe you can see a resemblance between her and these Entwives.

You know what's weird? The Frosty cartoon by Centaur is the only one that's 2D - you know - hand drawn, flat cartoon stuff. Suzy and Hardrock are both stop-motion (physical miniatures posed and animated a frame at a time). Now think of the Rankin Bass holiday specials - Rudolph, Santa's Coming to Town, etc. They're mostly the same dimensional miniature stop-motion type of animation. Rankin Bass also made a Frosty special, and it was just a regular 2D cartoon, like Centaur's Frosty. Why did each studio make holiday specials mostly in stop-motion, except for their Frosty cartoons? Weird.

Two Frostys. Both flat. Both the lamest of each studio's holiday fare. Sorry, Frosty.
Frosty isn't the only Rankin Bass-produced cartoon, but it's curious that it was one of the few. And it was Centaur's only 2D short. Coincidence??? Of course! Don't be a dope.

She's definitely.... sigh....out of my league.
Aaaanyway, Treebeard (who also went by Fangorn, depending on who you talk to), carried a bit of a torch for the Entwives (metaphorically, of course, Ents are mostly tree, and as such, are not keen on fire), and since Ents live a pretty long time, that's a lot of torch-carrying. Well, it looks like they at least made it to 1959 to appear in this Coty perfume ad. And lemme tell you, if you've seen what an Ent looks like, you'll know that these tree babes could do better. Old treebeard must have been great in the tree-sack, because his face wasn't winning any contests.

So who's the artist? Let's go in for a closer look. Enhance!

John... Ko... minski? No. Ko... or maybe Ro... Romini? Rosmini? Komini? I got nothing, people. The P.A.G! research and Googling Brigade came up empty-browsered on any mid-century commercial artists named Rosmini, Rossini, Kosmini, etc. If and Alert Readers have better luck, please post the name in the comments.

MEMO: All of this year's requested Exmess cards have gone out, but there are still some left, so email us if you want one. You might as well, because they fold into terrible airplanes.


Little Ads Gift Ideas - Nude is the new "not nude".

More help from Yore in finding that perfect gift that leaves them speechless, or, at least silent... possibly for weeks to come. Silence your friends and family with these gifts! Time to gift up!

Call her "Venus" if you want, but any reasonable person would call it a "naked lady toothpick". Let all the fleshly naked ladies know that you have recently eaten. This will surely demonstrate your viability as a provider and sexual partner. Nothing reels in the naked ladies like naked lady shaped stuff!

This Newd Nick apron will have the cook laughing face down on the grill! It's made of partially flammable canvas covered with the hilarious antics of Newd Nick, the kooky character, the core of whose comedy is that he is naked! Also, he's drunk! Perfect for the naked drunk on your Christmas shopping list!

This Jayne Mansfield hot water bottle isn't naked, but Jayne Mansfield in a bikini is like a regular woman naked. Fill her with hot water and snuggle up. Your lonely nights spent snuggling nothing and feeling like a loser are over! Get cozy with a miniature vinyl Jayne! This gift is sure to please the lucky, chilly, horny, desperate man in your life! Let him know you care about his chilliness, horniness, and desperation just enough to buy him a hot water bottle.


Gift Ideas from Esquire, 1957 - For the two-percenters of yestertime.

For those of you living in 1957, it may be hard to pick just the right gift for the moneyed playboy / socialite on your list. Apart from simply ignoring him / her, consider these gifts which will surely earn a half smile before being tossed in a closet, unopened, as soon as you leave. Then, consider wondering why you associate with spoiled pricks like that.

A pastel train, because the only problem girls have with toy trains is the color. This delightful model from Lionel is sure to please girls of all ages, just like the cowboy-themed tea set that was such a huge hit with your son. Buy it for her, leave it in the box for fifty years, auction it, and use the proceeds to buy her something she'll really want by then, like bourbon, or a therapist, or a therapist that serves bourbon.

"They had rechargeable batteries in 1957??" you say? They sure did! Sort of! This smart General Electric transistor radio comes in a carrying case with a battery charger. On a full charge, radio can nearly make it to the end of The Chipmunks Christmas Song, which is probably longer than you'll want it to.

Pastel handguns! because the only thing women don't like about guns is the color. These adorable "weapons of miss destruction" are available in purse-friendly .22 caliber - just right for surprising your "connected" boyfriend when he finds out you're cheating on him. He's probably cheating on you too. Also available: scented bullets, so he will always remember who killed him. For the wannabe gun moll in your life.

Aaaaaactually, these cameranoculars are kind of cool. Can't think of any jokes about them. Sorry.


Kodak Christmas Cards - Smoke em while you got em, Kodak.

Do you need HannuChristmaKwaanzaDon cards in 1961? Kodak's got you covered! Choose from one of a handful of feeble designs, stick in your snapshot, and shut up, because in '61, you should be thrilled you can play this game at all, let alone get a custom design.

 I feel bad for Kodak. They were pretty much the last word in film stock for decades, until the digital revolution left them out on the back porch of the industry, staring in through the frosty window at the table all laid heavy with a sumptuous banquet of profits and technical relevance. Yep, Kodak was pretty much The Shit since the early 1900s, although at the time they probably used different terms to describe their dominance in the film marketplace. Even "The Feces" would have come off as sounding derogatory back then. Slang is a crazy thing.

Kodak pretty much invented digital photography back in 1975 with an experimental eight-pound doorstop that captured .01-megapixel (10,000 pixel) pictures in black and white at a rate of 23 seconds per image. It recorded them on cassette tape and you watched your pictures on a television. Oof! Gotta start somewhere. The whole story can be read on Steve Sasson's blog. He was one of the lead engineers on the project.

Hey! The Hendersons' Christmas card arrived!
Of course, it wasn't a production unit. It was more of a "can we even do this?" test bed. Turns out you can do it. At the time, they used Moore's Law to extrapolate how many years it would take for digital cameras to wind up in the hands of your average mouth-breathing troglodyte...

" ...we attempted to address the last question by applying Moore’s law to our architecture (15 to 20 years to reach the consumer), We had no idea how to answer these or the many other challenges that were suggested by this approach."

They were pretty much on the money. So what happened? Just because a couple of engineers in your skunkworks patent a new technology, it doesn't mean the guys in suits can see the potential. Fast forward about 25 years and Kodak had totally missed out on the digital camera thing and now they haven't made a profit since 2007. They're still making printers and ink cartridges  and you can still get Exmess cards made at a Kodak kiosk, if there's one within a few miles of your house.

We're goin' off the raaaails on a Christmas traaaiiinnn.
It's easy to look at the aftermath of a battle and spout off about mistakes people made. So where's it going now? What's the next leap in technology that's going unnoticed? Errr. Well, there's that Lytro "Light Field" camera that lets you re-focus the picture after it's taken. However, that trick only works on a computer with their software installed, or in a web browser, which is super restrictive. Also, the images are REALLY low-res. Comb the Lytro site and you may be able to find out that the pictures are one megapixel, which is hilarious compared to the rest of the industry's ten-to-sixteen megapixel standard. Plus the camera is a toy, not a camera. You can't swap lenses, can't mess with any settings, and the color display is an inch wide. Until they license this technology to an actual camera company (or cellular phone maker?), I think it will be a photographic curiosity.

What else? Umm. 3D pictures are something you'd think you want, until you look at one and get a bleeding-eyes migraine. Lose the glasses and make it work on any old display and you'll be in business. 3D TVs have been around for a few years but I don't know anybody that has one. We just make fun of them. Mostly, nobody wants 3D in their house for now.

Let's see. Polaroid has that printer that doesn't use ink, but instead uses special paper filled with... uuh, ink which is activated by a laser in the printer. Hmm. That's kind of lame. Just a technological shell game moving the ink from the printer to the paper. That paper must cost a fortune.

This crystal ball stuff is hard, of course. Even in the case of that Kodak patent for the digital camera, the invention (apart from the patent filing) was a secret until 2001, at which point Kodak then tried to cash in by suing the crap out of everyone who had developed their own digital camera in the intervening years . That seems to be kind of a signal for "the start of the end" for a company - when you stop inventing things and just sue everyone's brains out. It smells of stagnation, like a company that's frustrated that it can't come up with new things any more.

What am I paying you for? Stop inventing that
revolutionary thing and get back to work.
So, just like the way Xerox invented the mouse in 1970 and dismissed it as silly, it's possible that something new and great is sitting in the drawer of an executive who doesn't see the potential, but still puts a lid on the development. We'll never know until someone with more vision invents it again and gets sued by the douchebag that tried to keep it from happening the first time around. Well done, guys. It's worth mentioning that the people who invent the thing are rarely the ones who shut it down. They're always super cranked about whet they invented, and want it to be developed. They're sometimes sent back to their desks to "stop fooling around and get back to work" by their leaders. Sometimes this is a massive mistake.

Now get back to work.

UPDATE: Some "old timey" camera companies that managed to survive the digital revolution by evolving with the times: Olympus, Canon, Fuji, Pentax.

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