2007oct04. My friend taught me a trick for flying. “How about you have a drink before you go on the plane?” This is great. Keeps me loose, and gets me through TSA without any major incidents as I subvert my principles. I think people should push the whole fake safety circus a little farther into brilliant absurdity – take off your shoes, take off your belt, and make sure your pants fall down. Enough people do this, that requirement will mysteriously disappear. That’s my theory, anyway, I have a million of them. Here’s another one: flirting with a married woman on a plane is Dangerous.
2007oct04. On the Jetblue flight back home, the crew was having problems with the DirecTV service and announced that they “may” compensate the passengers with free movies. Then about ten minutes later I noticed a lot more people watching movies, so I used my two remaining brain cells to process this new information and switched over to Die Harderer. And there I was, 30 minutes into the movie. What? They can’t deliver a “fresh” movie to each seat? ... so then it looped and of course I had to watch the first bit because I needed to burn fifty-three hours in the air ... then I noticed my seatmate (the ghost of Lee Miller) was watching the Simpsons movie so after I was all caught up with the laffs and love of Die Hardening I flipped over to that and there I was 30 minutes into the start of it as well. Also amusing: the in-flight status map has a header that is a semi-poor estimate of where you are (the plane icon itself takes up half of Nevada) and there’s apparently a large swath of land directly east of Livermore California called “SOUTHWEST.” So for about 1.5 hours during the flight, Jetblue is advertising the name of their direct competitor. Does anyone miss the old days of flying when everyone wore suits and dresses and the flight attendants would suck you off? Boy, I sure do. I’m Andy Rooney.
2007oct04. On re-consideration, the best part of my Boston trip was The Bodega (more pix). I am not in the market for fancy fly sneakers or hats, and I spent very little time in there, but the concept is so delightful I was giggling to myself for 15 minutes afterward. They could use a grumpy guy manhandling the cash register with his meaty fingers. “Get out of my store!” That sort of thing. I could put on some pounds.
2007oct04. Metafilter: The paternoster. Eventually metafilter will lovingly document every single nightmare scenario I’ve successfully repressed over the years. I saw it in a b/w movie that was neither Swedish nor a comedy nor Our Man Flint nor any of the other films mentioned; it just appeared in the background and was not “involved” in the story. Businessmen were filing in and out of it, and I thought “well, good thing those don’t exist anymore.”
2007oct05. There are no more licorice whips. Let me explain. Currently, America’s leading purveyor of licorice-based products, the American Licorice Company, produces several types of rope-like licorice products under the strange moniker “Red Vines.” There has been an internal war at ALC for awhile now concerning product nomenclature; currently the website seems to indicate that “Twists” is winning (“Original Red Twists” etc) and “Vines” is being engulfed (the package reads “Sugar Free Vines,” the header reads “Sugar Free Vines Strawberry Twists” etc). At one time, some of these “licorice twists” were called "licorice whips" (this makes this item entry doubly wrong – there’s no licorice in the strawberry variety and they’re no longer called “whips”). But we really know what licorice whips are, they’re those long pieces of licorice that hang on wooden poles at your local ole’ fashioned general store ain’t they now? Like the one that Smithers expertly handles during this cartoon segment? Like the ones Ernie disproportionally segments on a Sesame Street segment? No, no, and also no. Hold on to your butts, my internet friends. I’m going to show you a real licorice whip. History ... comes alive!!!
That’s right. A licorice whip was shaped like a whip, not a rope. The image comes from this page of the Confectioner’s Gazette from December 1922.
Now you know. And knowing is half the battle. The other half? Trying to stitch this info into witty cocktail party chatter when you’re also half in the bag. “D’you know that lickrish ... lickrish ... where’z my drink?”
2007oct05. I maded some posters for the 1980s party with associated froofy art gallery-type info cards. Let’s look at a few, shall we (A: yes)?
2007oct07. Now suddenly we are looking at more posters I made for the 1980s party w/the beloved art gallery info cards. Why are we doing this? It is a good question.
2007oct07. A kind correspondent pointed out something to me I hadn’t noticed about the Licorice Whip advertisement: you got a hell of a lot more licorice at the same price with the Big Twist. The licorice whip is a little more than 1/3rd the size of the Big twist, if you don’t count the puny one-strand whip part hanging off of the end, but even if you do, you don’t even get up to 50% of the Big Twist. The Big Twist also looks more capable of doing damage to your candy playmates, if whipping is indeed your goal. Me, I’d buy the American Plug, because doin’ tobacco plug is cool, man, and this is as close as I can get to it, as a theoretical kid in the 1920s, that is. I also had a newspaper route and visited the whorehouse regularly.
2007oct08. Finally we are wrapping up the three-part series of posters for the 80s party. The first two are just large “overviews” of 1980 and 1989; the third is a completely non-rigorous reproduction of the “Crazy Climber” video game with associated art card.
2007oct10. [Cardhouse] Trader Joe’s update. I think this will be it for that for awhile. I don’t think there’s mutual respect anymore. An understanding. That. You. Don’t. Discontinue. My. Jalapeño. Bean. Chips.
2007oct12. Help me to understand the mysterious world of multi-product packaging.
Recently a globally-positioned snack corporation released a three-edged chip product that was actually comprised of two different flavors. Why is this “variety pack” format such a novelty for foodstuffs? Was there some scary K-T-like event that has cowed manufacturers and marketers? Is it always financial suicide to take product A and similar product B, shunt x% of both product lines into one newly-designed bag and have a colorful cartoon character dancing around it with a shit-eating grin? Doo dee doo, dah dee doo?
After spending some time on your site, i have to say that i don’t care for your attitude.
Line forms at the back, please enjoy our complimentary cheese plate while you wait. Toothpicks are provided for your ... sanity? What’s this say? Sanitation. Sorry, it’s smudgy.
2007oct14. Excerpts from the book Refined Tastes: Sugar, Confectionery, and Consumers in Nineteenth-Century America by Wendy A. Woloson.
Consumer insensitivity or naïveté about the larger political issues engendered by labor and production realities characterized sugar’s presence in the marketplace throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Notwithstanding the pleas of abolitionists, people on both sides of the Atlantic continued to consume sugar in ever-increasing quantities. The abolitionist newspaper the Pennsylvania Freeman, for example, carried many advertisements for stores selling “Free Groceries” (i.e., produced with free rather than slave labor) in the late 1830s. Robert M’Clure’s was one among a number of enterprises that offered such staples, and his stock included “Double Single and Lump Sugar, Canton Sugar in bags and boxes; old and green Java Coffee, St. Domingo, Laguira, and Jamaica do. [ditto]; Eastern Island and N. York sugar-house Molasses; East India rice; Free Chocolate, made from St. Domingo Cocoa, &c.” These shops, however, were short-lived; regardless of conscience, people’s desire for and consumption of refined sugar and the products made with it continued unabated throughout the rest of the century. (pg 25)
Significantly, penny candies counted among the first things that American children ever spent their own money on, since merchants offered these treats in their shops long before other marketplace diversions appeared. But penny candies remained attractive to children even decades later, at the turn of the century, when other cheap entertainments like arcades and movie theaters were available, especially in the urban landscape. Candy shops became places where youngsters gathered and socialized among themselves, away from parental control, where “they were allowed, even encouraged, to act more grown-up than was good for them.” The pragmatic retailer understood that his financial success relied on the patronage of children; he was at their mercy. “A Curious Candy Store Boycott” took place in a rural Pennsylvania town at the turn of the century, for example, because the sole candy shop proprietor forbade loitering. “The children are organized, and have held several torchlight processions,” the Confectioners’ and Bakers’ Gazette noted uneasily. (pg 44)
Temperance workers kept stressing a connection between liquor and candy. In 1906, a writer in the Ladies’ Home Journal invokved scientific and moral theories that warned women against letting their children eat candy, saying, “The first craving from ill feeding calls for sugar; later for salt; then tea, coffee; then tobacco; then such fermented beverages as wine and beer; and lastly alcohol.” (pg 62)
Many fountain devices incorporated nude female figures, glass domes with spurting jets of water, and gas lights. Fountain manufacturers took advantage of people’s fascination with the triumph of technology that miraculously delivered fizzy water to beverage glasses by offering other gadgets that used water in novel ways. For example, the countertop Revolving Tumbler Washer and the Crystal Spa, both illustrated in Charles Lippincott’s 1876 trade catalogue, washed and rinsed dirty tumblers right in front of the customers. The drudgery of cleaning dirty dishes, usually hidden in the private back room, became a public attraction performed in plain view. The Crystal Spa, topped with a gas light, cleaned tumblers “inside and out.” The ad copy continued, “its novelty and beauty must be seen to be fully appreciated ... the value of an article like the Crystal Spa can only be justly realized by regarding it as a thing of beauty merely, apart from its mechanical character.” (pg 92)
Prescriptive literature aimed at late-century soda fountain operators continually emphasized eye appeal as a way to communicate more abstract ideas to women, like cleanliness. “Daintiness” served as a common euphemism for cleanliness. “Thin, sparkling glasses, bright, shining silver holders, new daintily designed spoons, clean tables, spotless jackets, immaculate serving counter” – all contributed to a successful fountain. Yet the clear message was this: “You may talk to a woman until you are blind about Pure Food beverages, about chemically pure carbonic acid gas, about ice cream made from rich cows’ cream and nothing else, and you may give her all these, but if you do not serve them daintily – you lose.” (pg 95)
Later in the century, when manufacturers began making chocolates and bonbons on a grand scale, advisors’ warnings gained stridency as they clarified the interconnection between food, sexual appetite, self-gratification, and “self-pollution.” Masturbation in the nineteenth century threatened the social fabric because people considered it “the ultimate symbol of private freedom and atomistic individualism,” Karen Lystra points out. Eating alone and reading alone, then, were both deemed unhealthy solitary pursuits because they quickly led to the sin of onanism. The popular and prolific nineteenth century health and diet guru J. H. Kellogg shared with Slyvester Graham the belief that “self-abuse” in women was expressed through “dreamy indolence” and gluttony. Outside temptations led women to “perdition” “Candies, spices, cinnamon, cloves, peppermint, and all strong essences powerfully excite the genital organs and lead to the same result [vice].” (pg 139)
Sweets had become so prevalent in the culture that they registered not just eating habits, but reading habits as well; people well understood the comparisons men like Alcott were making. William Greenleaf Eliot, another popular advisor, wrote: “One might as well expect to gain strength to his body from sweetmeats and confectionery, as for his mind from works of fiction.” Joseph P. Tuttle took the comparison one step further, suggesting that a life of luxury for a young boy, expressed by sweet-eating or book-reading, would irreparably feminize him, alleging that a boy living a life of “luxury” and “indolence,” “ends up being effeminate,” and “daintily avoids all unnecessary exertion.” Putting a finer point on it, he wrote: “You cannot develop a vigorous manhood by stuffing a boy with confectionery and deforming him in a rocking-chair.” Women were not supposed to engage in novel reading or bonbon eating because it was indulgent and sinful; boys were not supposed to engage in these activities because it made them like women. (pg 140)
Even though home production helped democratize ice cream, class distinctions associated with it remained; even versions of homemade ice cream differed in appearance and quality depending on one’s particular class. The middling classes most likely “put up” their ice creams in ubiquitous steel melon molds. In contrast, the rich served their homemade ice creams in fanciful shapes formed using elaborate molds of tin-plated copper or cast iron. Often imported from Britain, the molds enabled the rich to emulate the professional confectioner’s product. (pg 201)
2007oct19. Friday Freeday. Please set aside a block of time for these “moving pictures.” Perhaps you can put some of them in your scrapbook.
This is kinda like my old commute to school except for the insane zipline 1200 feet in the air part. Special thanks to “vidmax.com” for their mysteriously large yet poorly-designed logo covering up the subtitles ... you go to bed without dessert.
How camera lenses are made. I did not see as many elves as I thought were involved in the process.
In Soviet Russia things skate at YOU
Those Awful Hats (1909).
Tim & Eric: Cat Film Festival
Fresh Air: Stephen Colbert.
Call & Response: defining the fine line between catchy commercial jingles and mental paralysis.
Photos of people exiting turnstiles: MT4.
Having obtained your address web site from internet .We are writing you in
the hope of establishing business relations with you . We are an
international purchase center in Guilin of China . Now we are interested in
your products, are you an agent or the manufacturer? May I have your
catalogues and quotations? If you your prices are in line , we trust
important business can materialize .We are looking forward to receiving
your early reply .
Here is our info:
[Address, phone, website, etc.]
Okay, here’s the thing. I don’t have any products. I’m all out of products. I never had any. No products. What I want, however, is for manufacturers to contact me, offering products. I like products. That’s probably where the confusion lies – by featuring products on my business website cardhouse.com, it would be natural for one to assume that I sell products. This is wrong. But I want products. I want free samples of Pakistani barber scissors, strange hats, and horsie nasal patches. Please tell all of the other companies this. I am like your competition! Yes, tell them all that I am also a “purchase center,” as you say. We can crank call each other when things are slow. Lemme know if you’re okay with that.
Simon Templar Banana Crisp Jr.
Cardhouse Purchase Center of Purchasing
Bay Area Ltd., California7
USA 90210 By Wireless
“Take it from me or I’ll kick you in the junk!” – Dr. Sebastian Meyercord, world-famous horsetologist, horse
Skinner: Well, I was wrong. The lizards are a godsend.
Lisa: But isn’t that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we’re overrun by lizards?
Skinner: No problem. We simply release wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They’ll wipe out the lizards.
Lisa: But aren’t the snakes even worse?
Skinner: Yes, but we’re prepared for that. We’ve lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.
Lisa: But then we’re stuck with gorillas!
Skinner: No, that’s the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.
2007oct28. I am consistently astounded every time I see a reference to the Kitchen of Tomorrow. It’s there, just beyond our grasp, if we could only reach out have our refrigerator tell us what our eyes already do. This futuristic excerpt appears in an Discover article about The Coming Internet Data Jam:
The current packet-receipt feedback system (known as TCP) has worked wonderfully for years to control the flow of Internet traffic, but it won’t be able to cope with the coming jam, when fridges will scan the RFID chip on a milk carton and send an alert when the expiration date arrives. “Whether we like it or not, [Internet equipment giant] Cisco will network everything. Soon our glasses will tell the kitchen they’re empty,” Doyle says. That vast amount of traffic will make the Internet catastrophically fragile. “We could wake up one morning and nothing works.”
Our glasses will tell the kitchen they’re empty. Please explain to me why this information needs to be transferred to the kitchen ... at all ... and once you’ve done that, lemme know why that information needs to go out over the internet. Is that so some goddamned advertiser can suggest a product that would adequately fill the newly-created void the glasses suffer from? Is it so I can call up my house from my car as I return home from work, curious whether or not the glasses are empty yet (“oh boy oh boy oh boy, I bet they totally are!!!”)? Will this information appear on my myspace page?
OMG DUDE YUV GOT MT GLAZS!
You gadgetwhores can keep your networking crap out of my kitchen for the rest of my life, thanks. I’ve got it under control. I can “see” the expiration date on products with my eyes, and I also use these appliances to confirm the emptiness of my glasses before I pour an adult beverage into one or more of them. The way this is supposed to work is that the futurists come up with a problem, the technologists create a gadget, and then the marketers sell the “solution” by repeatedly explaining the “problem.” The problem here is that there is no problem, which is usually the problem anyway with most of the junk pushed in our face.
“Rumor around the Waffle House counter is that this particular design was intended to be part of the Waffle House uniform but was nixed for being a bit on the controversial side.” Whuh? [via doc]