Safe deposit box.

Joke #1 - Great, The weirdo who kept old copies of the Sun Times in his safe deposit box was here. If he asked for help with the Jumble one more time, it was time for little Donny to "accidentally" wing his first customer.

Joke #2 - Hmm. That guy was looking at a racing form. Gambling was a sin. Gary felt ready to distribute some divine justice.

Joke #3 - "That's some good guarding posture, son. Soon, you'll be guarding a vault for real, and caressing a real gun, and shooting real people, and making real plea bargains for real slap-on-the-wrist sentences for real administrative leave with pay.

Joke #4 - "Okay, Donny, we'll see what the customer wants together. But, let me do the talking. One more of your expensive misunderstandings and the department will ask me to justify giving a firearm to a nine-year-old.

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


Vito Belt - Exqueeze me?

How long have doctors been generally in favor of some kind of exercise? Kinda long, right? Well, it seems that, in 1939, the Hamilton Belt Company (makers of the Vito Belt) surveyed all doctors and - whattya know? - the safest way to get slim was to use their product!

"...excessive exercise may strain his heart" (so don't even try) "... dieting and drugs may be dangerous" (so don't try that either). "Why not take care of that ugly paunch the safe way... with a Vito Belt?"

Right there in the ad, it says that abdominal muscles can become stretched. True enough. However, to actually get rid of a pot belly involving abdominal muscle stretching would require an overall exercise regimen, involving anaerobic and aerobic exercise and abdominal crunches to strengthen the abdominal muscles. Crazy, huh?

But we shouldn't be too hard on this goofy little ad in the April 1939 issue of Popular Science, a magazine which I'm sure was widely read by people of every single body type, and in no way could be said to have a readership made up mostly of flabby nerds. Absolutely not.

After all, it's not like pseudoscience and snake willful ignorance have vanished, here in the bright and shiny information-is-practically-free future we live in. Jenny McCarthy ("Shut up, science, I know what I know, because I'm a mom."), Doctor Oz ("Was that 'Hippocratic' or 'hypocritical'" oath?") and Gwyneth Paltrow ("Magic potions!") spring nauseatingly to mind.

After all, I'm sure the rubber belt worked as advertised. It squoze your belly, which is more than can be said for Dr. Oz's "miracle" drugs or Gwyneth's vagina steamer. Rule of thumb: don't take medical advice from someone trying to sell you something at the same time.


Peugeot - Mouche du coche?

This 1964 ad for Peugeot seems to be trying to convince us that their cars are built to a high standard. Go ask any car geek you know and ask them if Peugeots are famous for their build quality and reliability. Innovation? Quirkiness? Clever design? Ten out of ten. Rock-solid construction? Errrr...... no. More knowledgeable understanders of Gallic carness are free to contradict this assertion in the comments, of course.

Ask Google to translate the idiom "busybody" into French, and it'll come back with "mouche du coche", which, directly translated back to English, means "fly in the coach". Hmm. Interesting. Do a search on "mouche du coche", and French dictionary sites will tell you it means "kibitzer" or "busy bee". So, it looks as though Google's translation feature is getting pretty good at understanding figures of speech and other non-literally-translatable phrases. That could be handy in the future.

The picky Frenchman in the picture could be useful in your graphical adventures some day too, n'est-ce pas? Let's have the Phil Are GO! Graphic Blandishment and Photoshoppery Brigade (PAGGBPB) pop him out of his native ad, complete his beret for him, and save him out as a PNG on an alpha channel backgorund.

Aah yes, just like that. But what if somebody doesn't want the naturally-yellowed version, and just wants him in pure black and white?

Can do. Hop to it, team....

Formidable! Right click that picky frog onto your "disque dur" for safe keeping, do you can use him to help convince people of your attention to detail, just like the build quality of French cars sort of doesn't.

What? More??? Jeez! Fine. Here's a new t-shirt in our shop, made from stuff we pulled from this ad. now you can show everyone how proud you are of your Peugeot 106, sitting back home in the garage, waiting for a new fuel pump to arrive on the slow boat from Nice.

Link to the Peugeot shirt at our Spreadshirt shop.

Yep. Those cars are sort of arranged in the colors of the French flag. Clever, huh? Yep, that's that attention to detail the French are famous for.

Lastly, you know what's interesting? While, yes, Peugeot does still make cars and bicycles, they make a surprising number of high-end salt and pepper shakers, for some reason. Next time you're in a reasonably fancy restaurant, and you notice the shakers are made of stainless steel (not glass, for some reason), look at the bottom while you're adding some big flavor to your soup and see if there's a Peugeot logo down there. Then you can make the face like the guy in this ad, because you noticed a detail.



BSA Gold Vase - Greatest Sports Model Ever

"Who?" I know what you mean. Apparently BSA made bicycles. If you're a Yank, you could be forgiven for never having heard of BSA, as they haven't had a presence in the U.S. market for a bunch of years, but they were a major player in England.

BSA stands for Birmingham Small Arms. They got their start way back in 1861, making guns. Unsurprisingly, a factory that made gun parts was pretty easily adaptable for making bicycle parts - you know, precision machining metal parts for long service life.

So, in 1880, BSA branched out into bicycle manufacture, with the Otto Dicycle, which looked like this....

Yikes. Perhaps BSA recognized that they could do better for themselves. Instead of building the kooky "Dicycle" for another company, they began making the more conventionally-designed "safety bicycle" under their own brand, later in the 1880s.

This led kind of naturally to building motorcycles under the Triumph brand, peaking in the 1950's and 60's. Later, when BSA got out of bicycles, selling off that part of their business to Raleigh.

Before they gave up on making bikes, BSA did make one of the best internally-geared hubs in history. Sturmey-Archer hubs were brilliant and nearly indestructible three-speed hubs that demanded nearly zero maintenance. They were on the best bikes back in The Fifties. You know Pee-Wee Herman's precious red bike? It probably had a Sturmey-Archer rear hub on it.

This ad proclaims the Gold Vase (the model pictured in the ad) as "The greatest sports model ever". Look at the size of that saddle bag. What did people carry around in 1950 when they were out "sporting"? You could put a loaf of bread in that bag... or a pair of shoes... or a pair of breadshoes.

Maybe you're feeling a little nostalgic for the BSA you had when you were a kid, and also English? Well, the Phil Are GO! Graphic Blandishment and Photoshoppery Brigade have harvested a couple of elements from today's ad and made up a shirt, which you can actually buy and actually wear, if that's what you're into. Maybe yellow's not your thing, or being a lady? Other colors and a bunch of different kinds of shirt are also up there, including man stuff. Here's the link.



Easy Funeral Hits


Murder Whiskey


Book Recommendo - We Are Legion / Bobiverse Book 1

Science fiction often lives or dies on the strength of the ideas laid out in the story. It would be easy to assume that any narrative that takes place in the future with spaceships and robots is therefore science fiction. I insist that this isn't true. Star Wars is an action movie. Alien is a horror movie. What determines a story's genre is the nature of the story, not the time period in which it takes place.

Anyway, interesting ideas are the bread and butter of sci-fi, and quite often, interesting characters are few and far between. Science fiction fans generally accept this as standard. Hey, if there's enough compelling stuff taking place, you can overlook the fact that the people they're happening to are a bit flat. Maybe?

There are, of course notable exceptions to this. In recent years, Andy Weir's The Martian presented the reader with an interesting situation (guy stranded on Mars), and a protagonist with, oddly enough, a little personality (supersmart and resourceful astronaut with a cheeky sense of humor and lots of grit) that you actually root for. Let's hope there's more where this came from.

We Are Legion is book one of the newly-launched Bobiverse trilogy, and one could be forgiven for thinking is was also written by Andy Weir, for all the right reasons.

The reader is introduced to Bob Johansson just as he sells his tech startup for a gigantic profit, effectively cashing out after a career of innovation and self-won achievement. He's a scientist and entrepreneur who's earned every penny, and now he wants to relax for a few decades. He also has a tank of liquid nitrogen with his name on it, having bought himself a spot with a cryonics company, because with a strong belief in science and all the money he could ever want, why wouldn't he? That same afternoon, he's hit by a truck while crossing the street, and wakes up a century or so in the future.

A lot changes in a century. The United States is run by a totalitarian theocracy that has declared "corpsicles" to be immoral and an abomination. Also, all rejuvenated human minds have no rights and are the property of the State. Bob wakes up as a disembodied mind installed in a computer, and finds out he's been selected to be the operating system on a space probe designed to find new habitable worlds, because apparently war and destruction continue, even if the U.S. is run by Superchristians (Crazy. I know.). If Bob chooses to decline this opportunity, he'll just be deleted and they'll find someone else. That right there is the interesting "what if?" premise for the story.

It's also interesting and compelling in the same way that The Martian is: A really smart and resourceful protagonist presented with a shit sandwich of a situation. Fortunately, like The Martian's Mark Watney, Bob Johansson determines to think himself out of any problem. He spends nearly zero time freaking out, throwing a tantrum. He's pragmatic, with a good bit of humor to keep himself sane.

It's also helpful that, as the AI on a spacehsip in the year twenty one something-or-other, he can 3D print anything he needs, and can make copies of himself to cooperate with. (Talk about your team building exercises. Woooo!) Also, he can speed up or slow down his perception of time by adjusting the clock speed of his CPU, which is handy in those long, boring stretches of space exploration. There's still the bickering nations of Earth to deal with, as they continue having wars, ruin what's left of the habitable regions of the planet, and generally behave like schoolchildren. So it's not all a simple milk run for Bob.

One might wonder why Bob would feel any loyalty at all to the dillholes of Earth who put him in this situation and who bitch constantly that he's not finding habitable planets fast enough, or giving special treatment to one nation or another. But, maybe that's just me. It may also be why I'm not an immortal artificial intelligence expected to save humanity.


Animal on the Street - Huge pay TV losses in Q1 2017.




Gosh Darn Car Repair


Sherman House - First in jazz?

Chicago's got some cool hotels, and Chicago had some cool hotels. This ad from the March 1969 issue of Esquire is for The Sherman House, apparently remodeling at the time. If the Sherman House was advertising in Esquire, it was either very groovy and hep, or desperately wanted to be perceived as such. So where was it, and where'd it go?

The address is strange. Three streets and no numbers. What gives? No, wait a second. That means the place occupied an entire city block, right in the middle of downtown. Jeez, that's big.

Randolph, Clark and LaSalle puts The Sherman House either on the site of city hall (not bloody likely), or right across the street from it, which is now the Thompson Center, also known as The State of Illinois Building! It's kind of famous, having been featured in a couple of movies, like Running Scared (1986). But the Thompson center was built in 1985. When was The Sherman House demolished?

Turns out WTTW has a nice page on The Sherman House, and it says the place was flattened in 1973. Yikes. Sounds like the 1969 remodel didn't really revive business.

Here's a picture of what seems to be the 1969 remodel (picture found at Forgotten Chicago). Very groovy! I approve.

But what happened between the demolition in '73 and the construction of The Thompson Center in '85? Forgotten Chicago has it:

After sitting vacant for the remainder of the decade, the Sherman House, along with this entire block, was demolished in the 1980s for the State of Illinois Center (now James R. Thompson Center), which opened in 1985.
Oof. Downtown Chicago is really nice, currently, but certain grandparents will tell you there were dark days for the downtown area, with vacant buildings and not-so-great places to see - or, if you were thinking more clearly - avoid, in The Seventies. It sounds like the Sherman House was one of those places contributing to the overall shabbiness of the downtown area. And it was right across from City Hall. Imagine a major city with a derelict hotel across the street. Great.

So, in 1985 they built the Thompson Center. Good deal. Here's what it looks like now:


That radiused glass corner of the building you're looking at? That's a ten-story glass atrium. From inside it's fairly amazing. If you're coming to Chicago, you might make an excuse to pop in and see it.

It seems I've been there, taking artsy pictures...

Here's a less artsy-fartsy and more descriptive picture of the atrium:

There's a link on the WTTW page for The Sherman House with a short video about The Sherman House. Apparently, The Sherman House was one of the first places in Chicago that a lot of people heard jazz music, was back in the early 1900's. Cab Calloway, Gene Krupa and Tommy Dorsey played there. It was also originally founded by the son of the Civil War General Sherman. Whoa. Their embeddable video code seems incompatible with Blogger, so you'll have to go look for yourself to see the clip.

But here's a clip from the climactic shootout scene in Running Scared, which was shot in the State of Illinois Building's atrium...

Anyway, The Sherman House still has something to offer to the ages: clip art! Here are the semi-concussed-Cheryl-Tiegs-looking lady and romantic couple images from this ad, all dressed up for you in their alpha channel backgrounds, ready to be used on your party invitations or divorce settlement documents. You're welcome!