Watch Repair - Hunch your back.

Let's forget. for a moment, that a bunch of companies are trying to make your watch into something that you throw away and re-buy every year. Some people like wearing watches despite the fact that they don't really need to any more. They just like them.Time was, when your watch broke, you got it fixed by some kind of local human with ruined posture and very sharp eyes. Enter the part time watch repair guy. This could have been YOU! Isn't that wouldn't have been exciting?

Glamour. Travel. Adventure. If these are the things you longed to abandon, then you should have send for the Chicago School of Watchmaking's free sample lesson in watch repair. Let tomorrow have been the first day of the rest of your squinty, bent-over life.

So what's at 2330 Milwaukee now? Get ready to have your mind not blown! It's a poorly stitched-together lawyers' office! Woooo! Underwhelming!

I scream, you scream. We all scream for a Graphic Gift of a broke guy! I love that song. He's a PNG, and that rhymes with "alpha channel" which is the first letter in "transparent background", so get your rude finger ready to right-click this cranky pauper onto your hard drive in three, two, one, RIGHTCLICK NOW!

He seems way more likely to find frequent employment in fun little notes around the house than the strangely specific people in the Quix Suds ad from Monday's post. For example, You could use him in an email to your son when he asks you to send him some medicinal marijuana money at The University of Bleeding You Dry. You're welcome!

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P&B Wools - Rowland Emett! Whimsy for everyone!

More great stuff from our friends across the pond today. This time, we bring you  our discovery of a new favorite illustrator in this 1947 ad for P&B wools, who, for some reason, use a beehive as their logo. Weird. Anyway....Rowland Emett!

Until a few minutes ago, I'd never heard of Rowland Emett. Thankfully, one of our cub reporters dropped this ad on my desk, exposing my foolish ignorance, humiliating me. How dare you, cub reporter! Also, nice work! I'm giving you a raise and then firing you. You can have the corner office. I'm sorry, but you'll have to clean out your desk as soon as you move in.

So who's this Rowland Emett guy? English illustrator and sculptor. 1906-1990. His dad was an amateur inventor. This makes a lot of sense. Have a look.

Here's some FaceTube video of some of his sculpture. You may want to turn down the music. Why oh why do so many amateur video editors insist on forcing music into everything? I think most of the time, "nat sound" would be better. It is well shot, though. You have to shoot Emett's stuff like this, as a series of close up details. You wouldn't get it all in with just a wide shot.

It's interesting (read: disappointing) to note that so many people, when posting videos about Rowland Emett, can't resist tacking on the line "Marvelous Machines", as if they're the first person savagely clever enough to come up with that description. It's ironic that Emett was so inventive and original, and people use that stupid cliche to celebrate his work. This reminds me of the phrase "think outside the box". In praising originality, we use tired, pre-packaged thoughts and worn out catch phrases. Well done, us. People who urge you enthusiastically to "think outside the box!!!" have never even seen the edge of "the box", let alone spent any time thinking outside it.

Here's a news reel on Emett from British Pathe', which, by the way, has uploaded tons of their clips to FaceTube, indexed into playlists no less. Thanks, Pathe'!

In this video, they mention his design work for Chitty Chitty Bang bang. I had a feeling he had some involvement in the Willy Wonka movie also, but facts don't seem to bear this out. We couldn't find any evidence that he worked on that film.

His stuff doesn't really represent well at small scale, which makes today's ad a little unfortunate. It's about 4" by 4.5". Good thing that promoted guy I fired spotted it. We can use a sharp-eyed go-getter like him around here. I should hire him.

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Quix Concentrated Suds - Blame the messenger?

Today we have another mysterious artifact from The Ancient Land. It's an ad for Quix Concentrated Suds, which apparently was a brand of dish soap you could buy in a distant land ever such a long time ago!

You can tell this ad came from England, even though it doesn't make any mention of their nutty currency in one of dozens of denominations of coins, each of  which has five different names. For one thing, you can tell because they say "washing-up" instead of "doing the dishes". Then there's their use of the word "crockery". Psst - That means "the dishes". So now you know.

The shrewd observer may notice that in this little cartoon, the implication is that the woman does the dishes and the man approves her work. Don't be mad at advertising. The ad business always just does it's best to reflect the state of popular culture. It never drives it or dictates cultural morays, despite it's ardent wish to do just that. Advertising is like the pathetic loser kid that does whatever he thinks will make him "cool". He's doing his best to be liked by everyone. The lady in this ad is a housewife because this was 1951 and, well, you know... 1951. Actually, I'm guessing that, in '51, the English were still pretty happy to not get bombed by the Germans every night. Gender equality could wait a few more years.

How bout some strange clip art to start your week off right? These illustration, taken out of context, become strangely specific, yet vague. They're the kind of thing that's not very useful until you absolutely need it for the perfect party invitation or love note, you know?

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Science News! - Like news, but sciencey!

Steam-powered, butane-fueled motorcycle is somehow preferable to one that is just butane-powered. Inventor dislikes questions. Very slowly sped away after igniting boiler, waiting for water to boil, and adequate steam pressure to build.

Home-made baby terrifyer is cheaper than commercially-available forms
of baby torment, allows you to capture magic moment of adorable horror.

Graduated tempered-glass monkey mug is tough enough for monkey use,
accurate enough to prevent accidental over-roofieing of monkeys.

Tire-Flator fills leaky tire from spare, resulting in two tires at half-pressure soon, two flat tires later.


Halloween-ish viewing material - Yes, a little early.

It's cooling off in Chicago, and that means Halloween is on the way. Call me crazy, but when it gets to be Halloween, the perfect thing to get me in the mood is documentaries about life in historical England. Maybe it's because, for most people back then, the world was filled with superstition and crazy beliefs. Not like we're living in an age of enlightenment now or anything, but at least the Medievals had an excuse to life in ignorance, and hence, fear. For whatever reason docs about old England fascinate me, but especially so around Halloween.

You can find a lot of really good documentaries on the FaceTube... and I'm not talking about the (mostly) idiotic crap that History Channel runs. The last time I tried finding something to watch on History Channel, I swear I could feel myself getting dumber by the second. No, I mean good ones with actual historical facts and stuff.

Tony Robinson has had a long career in British TV, but lately he seems to focusing on making really interesting historical documentaries with a high educational value as well as entertainment. This is more or less a lost art in here America, but The Beeb is still producing excellent stuff.

It's not clear why, but The BBC doesn't seem to be bothered by the fact that there are full-length versions of their shows available to watch on the FaceTube. And, I don't mean the kind of thing where the program is chopped up into ten minute segments to get around the (now outdated) time limit on FaceTube videos. No, the complete show is up there, all in one chunk. So, here are a bunch of his shows that are really good Halloween-season watching. Don't tell anyone, but you'll probably learn something too.

If any of these links go dead for some reason, just do a search on the title of the show. Someone else will have the episodes up there.

The Worst Jobs in History. The series is broken down by eras. First episode is Anglo-Saxon. The second one is Medieval, and so on. Tony consults historians and always has a go himself at actually doing every job. What a trooper. In this scene, he's learning how to wash clothes by stomping them in a bucket of human urine, and he's not using pretend urine. Want to feel lucky? learn about some of the worst jobs in history. Twelve episodes.

Gods and Monsters. Each episode explores a topic of ancient superstition. The undead, witches, etc etc. At left, we see Tony dressed as an Average Tudor Bloke, finding his chicken mysteriously dead. The only logical conclusion? Witches! Five episodes.

Walking Through History, Fact or Fiction. Tony examines stories from history, separating out fact from legend. There is an episode all about William Wallace, whom you may remember from the wildly apocryphal Braveheart  movie. Guess what? The blue face paint (woad), and the kilts? Wallace lived 1000 years after they stopped putting woad on their faces and he was 400 years too early to ever wear a kilt.

Please enjoy!


Post Cereals - Trix or treat.

If anybody from Post Food, Inc. sees what I did in the title, they'd have five simultaneous heart attacks. General Mills makes Trix - not Post. But that just shows you I care more about a decent pun than the health of strangers. I am the worst person in the world.

Cereal for Halloween? I'm trying to think if I would have been as cranked as this little girl to get a single-serving box of cereal for trick or treats, and I think I would be into it... depending on the cereal. It would have to be something desserty and sweet. Froot Loops or Lucky Charms would be great, but Raisin Bran, for example, would go right in the bushes on my way back to the sidewalk, as I didn't develop a tolerance for the stuff until adulthood. Now that I'm a great big man, I shovel the stuff down with gusto. But as a kid, that's a big negative, good buddy.

Pre-sweetened cereals were generally forbidden by mom and when we were allowed to indulge in them at all, they were doled out only as a dessert. Not a bad Idea, IMO. To this day, I'll occasionally buy a box of Cap(apostrophe)n Crunch, to be eaten as dessert. The things drummed into us as kids sometimes stick.

But now that I'm a great big man... handing out single serving cereals for trick or treat? No friggin way. I'm not made of money. Have a "fun size" Twix instead, kid. (Note: Making a candy bar nearly microscopic does not make it fun, dickheads! A "fun size" Twix would be about the size of my leg. Don't get me started.)

The painting in today's ad is by... guess who? His name is only as big as the text on the Sugar Crisp box. Dick Sargent was not shy about his signature. He was also not shy about his attempt to emulate Norman Rockwell. Here's an interesting thing. It's not hard to tell that his stuff is heavily "referenced", as we say. That means he would stage a photo shoot with models posing exactly the way he wants, take a photo and then basically do a painting of the photo. This was not uncommon, especially when you got paid by the job, not by the hour. Anyway, that's not the interesting part. The interesting part is that he seems to basically use a flash when he takes the photo. Look at the lighting on the people in the picture. They're lit from directly behind the viewer, as if he just used flash, instead of positioning lights around the scene for more naturalistic lighting.

These people are floating over the sidewalk like they were pasted in from another painting. No drop shadows at all. WTF, Dick? They're outside in daylight, but the light source for the people seems to be about six feet off the ground, right in front of their noses. Freshman art lesson number one; Consistent light sources. These people might have been Photoshopped into the scene, if it had existed then. Maybe he was in a hurry?

Looking at the rest of his stuff, it seems to be his style. Almost everything is lit from the front, with no cast shadows at all. This makes for a sort of flat, cartoony look that kind of bugs me. Why try to paint something photo-realistically and then (in my opinion) ruin it with flat, artificial lighting? Maybe it was just faster or simpler (read: more profitable)? I dunno.

See? I knew you could do it, Dick. Try to pay attention to the light source all the time.

Just don't tell Dick Sargent what I said about his stuff or his wife will put a spell on me. She's a witch, you know.

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Bulmer's Cider - Apple season.

Maybe your family likes to go out into the crisp autumn air and go apple picking. After the excitement and arguing, bickering and possible whining of taking the family out, you deserve a nice drink of cider. In fact, screw the apples. Just go buy some cider.

Here in America, various kinds of "hard cider" are all the rage in your liquor aisle now, but England has been hep to the jive for some time. This ad for Bulmer's is from 1947, for example. There's an annoying brand I see in the stores a lot now called "Angry Orchard" that, in typical American advertising fashion, has an evil grinning apple tree on the label. American's can't resist trying to make everything all badass or "extreme", even when it's something that's basically a candy-flavored alternative to beer. The only time Americans seem to exercise a little tasteful restraint is when in comes to tasteful restraint itself.

The English, as always, do it without the shoutiness of a cartoon woodchuck or angry tree. Strongbow comes to mind. Bulmer's has a nice simple label, too. And, as it turns out, they're still around.  Good for them. Cider is pretty yummy. But because of the sweetness, drinking more than one is a bit of a push for me. Still good, though.

Did someone say they need clip art of a guy polishing off a rock glass? No? Well, go and ask everyone until someone says "yes" just to make you go away. Maybe this thirsty dandy can be useful for your next party invitation. Right click him into a nice long nap on your hard drive. You're welcome.

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