Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Just listen!

There is something perfectly intoxicating about these early Maxwell House coffee ads. Whoever came up with that coconut-clopping or block-striking or whatever-it-was-that-made-that-perc-ing-sound was a genius, for it's forever associated with coffee that TASTES AS GOOD AS IT SMELLS. Which is funny, because as I recall, "perked" coffee smelled terrible, gaseous and burnt, like the stuff that collects under the burners of an old stove. What it tasted like, I'll never know, because I wasn't drinking coffee then. I wasn't even drinking amniotic fluid then, folks, because I wasn't conceived yet.

What a concept.

This was one of the more magical illusions of my youth. Really, it still is pretty impressive. I made a YouTube video out of this, and millennials gasped over it because they'd never seen it before. How did they do that?? It was nearly as magical as the Hertz Rent-a-Car ad which showed a couple being lowered down into a moving convertible. ("Let Hertz put YOU in the driver's seat. . . TODAY!")

It does seem ironic to me that, though I remember coffee smelling gaseous and burnt, Maxwell House was sold mainly on "aroma", with consumers whiffing it up as if it was some sort of intoxicant. People even smelled the steaming beans, as if they'd ever have the opportunity to whiff massive mounds of coffee beans. Back in my youth, there was a fad of eating the roasted beans (and you can still get them, chocolate-covered for sissies). Though you'd think they would send you into orbit, it seems to me that the brewing process was what brought out the caffeine. But it was a quick pick-me-up if you didn't have time to brew it.

I have no idea of the provenance of this eagle emblem. At first I had an awful feeling it might be Nazi, but I don't think so. Are those stars and stripes on the emblem? It looks a bit like a cheese grater, or one of those old Afro combs. Are those arrows in its talons? Who knows. Handsome cup, but I am not sure what it means.

Special Bonus Gif! Looking at this old ad again, I'm impressed by how good it looks. Apparently they  reversed a shot of the couple being pulled out of the car - but how exactly did they do that? How to attain the precise angle needed, how to keep the background steady while the car moved? There's a magic here, magic that has been lost in this era of CGI and computerized, photoshopped trickery. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

Proudly Canadian! Gold Seal Salmon commercial

A typical cartoon ad from the 1950s, with primitive, highly stylized animation. There's no doubt what the product was, which I believe was Proudly Canadian. My Mum made salmon loaf, creamed salmon on toast, and salmon sandwiches for our school lunch boxes out of Gold Seal. I loved the bones, which looked like vertebrae and were tender and salmon-y. I could never figure out why the company left the vertebrae in the can, along with that gross, fatty black skin. Couldn't they find a way to remove it? Never mind, those bones were great.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Wobble Girl Dubstep - Swagga Edition

This woman faked ataxia in order to get insurance payments after getting a flu shot. Inside Edition nearly fell for it, until they followed her around for a bit and noticed her walking normally. In this clip she claims to be able to run and walk backwards. This just makes the dubstep funnier. For some reason I kept watching this and laughing every time. What an idiot!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Scenes of daily life in Paris in the 1890s

Old film is a time machine - I think we're agreed on that - but never more so when someone has so lovingly restored a film from the remote past. Color-tinted (which I usually dislike, but which works here as another level of spell-binding), with speed corrected to the frames-per-second discrepancy of early movies, and with convincing sound effects dubbed in, YOU ARE THERE, you are walking these streets, hearing the cloppa-cloppa-cloppa that must have been ubiquitous in those times, smelling the manure which must have been everywhere, speaking rapidly in a French that might not be recognizable today, wearing a heavy, voluminous skirt with layers and layers of petticoats and a constricting corset. . . body-feeling, mind-feeling those times, those left-behind times that were left behind the way we leave behind all times. 

People malign the internet all the time, of course, but look what it unlocks, and in a fraction of a second, right here at home, RIGHT NOW, not having to join some film society somewhere and listen to pretentious people pontificate just to let us all know they know FAR more than we ever will, or even can. I have come to take for granted the click to instant knowledge, and how it has taken over from those endlessly boring, stale plods through the halls of libraries which were already badly out of date. The only boredom left being the comments section.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Elizabeth Holmes: bobblehead

Elizabeth Holmes pretends to agree while one of her critics rips her to shreds. Note the foreward hunch with ankle resting on her knee, one of her more irritating traits.

"Two girls for every boy" and other surfing lunacy

Click on bottom right corner to go full-screen/hear the waves!

Friday, June 14, 2019

"HEY, KIDS!" Wall of comic book prizes

I know I've posted this before, but I still consider it a work of '60s art, every bit as culturally significant and evocative of its era as the kitschy and wildly desirable artwork of Andy Warhol. It evokes those summers at Bondi, my brother and I continually bantering back and forth, reading the Jimmy Olsen Annual and making fun of it, looking with longing at many of these incredible devices, yet knowing somehow we could never even order them. We'd have to send quarters taped to cardboard, Canadian quarters, and somehow that would never do, as we vaguely knew that their money wasn't the same as our money. Superman appeared in an ad and advertised a contest, for which the prize was two all-day passes to Palisades Park, which we had never heard of. It was all very foreign, yet somehow very familiar. 

This is the first time I have attempted to blow it up for detail, though I had to slice-and-dice it and the text is still a challenge. This is a time machine, or as close as I am ever going to get to one. I wonder where they are, those kids who actually DID order these bizarre items, or if any of them are even alive any more.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Heartbreaking! Story of starving cat

BREAKING MEWS! Local cat has never been fed, EVER! Cruelty charges pending

"A chemistry is performed": the lunatic junk science that brought down Theranos

"A chemistry is performed so that a chemical reaction occurs and generates a signal from the chemical interaction with the sample, which is translated into a result, which is then reviewed by certified laboratory personnel." - Elizabeth Holmes explains the science behind the Theranos blood testing miracle.

This is the second-most-famous Holmes quote, right next to "First they think you're crazy, then they fight you, and all of a sudden you change the world."

Friday, June 7, 2019

What's beneath the dress

It strikes me that all these portraits of women (well-to-do women, apparently, who could afford sumptuous gowns and having their portraits painted) have something in common. No matter how different the faces, they all seem to have the same body, with the same erect carriage and impossibly tiny waist. Some of the portraits seem purposely exaggerated, the equivalent of airbrushing or photoshop, as if tightlacing were some sort of Edwardian soft-core porn.

It's hard to believe that even wealthy women went about looking like this all day. Didn't they have - day dresses or something? Afternoon dresses? This is evening attire,  the stuff you pose in, sitting endlessly still, your skirts draped over some velvet divan, perhaps with a decorous little dog at your side.

More than most, these paintings have a static quality, almost "statuesque" (a strange term if ever there was one). Later on, portraits of fine women became sportier (one even depicts a smiling woman with a tennis racket). At this point, however, everyone mostly stood still or sat around. One woman (with the tiniest waist I've ever seen) plays a violin, kind of like the "talent" section of the Miss America pageant. I don't know why I say this, but I think in this case the violin was a prop.

And for reasons unknown, I think of this exquisite poem by my favorite poet, W. B. Yeats, only excerpted here because it's very, very long (but likely to be featured in a future post: I haven't done a literary analysis in ages!):

May she be granted beauty and yet not
Beauty to make a stranger's eye distraught,
Or hers before a looking-glass, for such,
Being made beautiful overmuch,
Consider beauty a sufficient end,
Lose natural kindness and maybe
The heart-revealing intimacy
That chooses right, and never find a friend.

May she become a flourishing hidden tree
That all her thoughts may like the linnet be,
And have no business but dispensing round
Their magnanimities of sound,
Nor but in merriment begin a chase,
Nor but in merriment a quarrel.
O may she live like some green laurel
Rooted in one dear perpetual place.

Considering that, all hatred driven hence,
The soul recovers radical innocence
And learns at last that it is self-delighting,
Self-appeasing, self-affrighting,
And that its own sweet will is Heaven's will;
She can, though every face should scowl
And every windy quarter howl
Or every bellows burst, be happy still.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Baby Marlboro

Someone, somewhere, some Mad Man of the 1950s, must have thought this would be a good idea for an ad campaign. And there were at least half a dozen of these ads in the series, so it must have been successful. It's just one of those incredibly dated ideas, like people seeing nothing wrong with mocking gay people and stereotyping people of colour. But why is it that things seem to go forwards and backwards at the same time?

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Join the Great Illuminati Brotherhood Today (and live a Better and Happy Life)!

(Blogger's note. Yargghh! I see this sort of thing all the time, posted over and over and over again, in the comments section of certain Facebook pages, usually the historical ones for some reason. It's strange, because the one time I accidentally posted a link twice, I was dinged by Facebook for "spamming" and my comments were removed. But if it's Illuminati, I guess it's all right. I repost this verbatim, complete with unusual grammar and spelling.)

I am Mr. Daniel

Kong Ni
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