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McLaren+Torchinsky

Carrie McLaren & Jason Torchinsky are coeditors of _Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture_. In previous lives, they worked together on the hopelessly obscure and now defunct Stay Free! magazine. He lives in LA and writes for the Onio

Hidden Booze Treasure Ad Campaign

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

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I'm more used to being a critic of advertising, but I have to admit, I kind of like this old late 60s-early 70s ad campaign/stunt for Canadian Club whiskey. The idea is really simple: the company hid cases of the whiskey in remote locations throughout the world, and daring go-getter boozehounds with, I imagine, a good bit of disposable income, would go off in hunt of them. The ad I have here describes one at the bottom of Devil's Backbone Reef in the Bahamas. Here's an old article about it, too.

Incredibly, as improbable as it would seem that a company would be allowed to just leave around cases of alcohol in our modern, fussier time, it looks like the contest was revived, in 2004, but they were in U-Hauls, which makes it lots less fun.

Information about the event is a bit scant online, but I did find this one very, very informative comment:
In 1967, Hiram Walker and its advertising agency began hiding cases of Canadian Club Whiskey around the world. In all, 22 cases were hidden and 5 remain hidden to this day. The 5 remaining cases were hidden: 1) At the North Pole; 2) In Lake Placid, NY; 3) In The Yukon Territory of Canada; 4) On Robinson Crusoe Island off the coast of Chile; and 5) In Ujiji. Of the 5 remaining cases, those in Lake Placid, The Yukon, and Chile have clues which are at best vague. Those cases will most likely never be found. Of the 2 other cases, both the North Pole clues and the Ujiji clues were quite specific. The North Pole clues included Longitude and Latitude, Minutes and Seconds. Unfortunately, due to its location, it most likely sank into the snow long ago. The Ujiji case remains the strongest candidate as to its potential discovery. If anyone is interested in learning of the Ujiji hidden case of Canadian Club whiskey, contact me @ james.willhoft@gte.net


Wow! There's still 5 cases out there! I actually found a few other similar posts about the remaining 5 cases, signed by a "James W." Man, this guy really, really wants those weathered old cases of hooch. Maybe it's time to get up an expedition of discriminating drunks with lots of frequent flyer miles to burn, or willing to take up a collection and get poor, obsessed James a case of his own.

The Black Widow

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

I've always been fond of VW Beetles, and any real Beetle lover should set aside a special place in their gas-fume-smelling heart for one particular Beetle, the Black Widow. The Black Widow started life as a 1955 oval-window Beetle, boasting a small stable of 36 horses for power. Then, the kooks over at Turbonique, makers of some truly bonkers small jet engines for daredevils and other fun-loving loons, put one of their engines in the Bug, along with the VW/jet engine transaxle they developed. The result was a Beetle that made about 850+hp and weighed about, oh, half of a modern Honda Civic.

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When These Robots Enslave Us, It'll Be an Adorable Enslaving

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

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As a kid, I remember that a suspicious number of my toy robots seemed to originate from Tomy, which I always pictured as a sophisticated Japanese concern, headquartered in a gleaming steel building on, probably, a hovering island off the coast of Hokkaido.

I thought this because, unlike most toy companies, Tomy seemed to secretly long to be a real robot company. Sure, they had the usual little wind-up and remote control robots (and the less usual, like the owl-bot pictured here), but they kept sneaking into their line more and more sophisticated ones. This site gives a great rundown of the whole 70s-90s era Tomy Robot Army, so you can know just who your cute new plastic master is.

"Iraq Campaign 1991" by Phil Patiris is now online

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

One of my other favorite films from the Illegal Art Exhibit was Phil Patiris' "Iraq Campaign 1991," a genius bit of agitprop he created in 1992 using TV footage of the first Gulf War. It was especially a hit at lefty media conferences. I wanted to put this up on the Illegal Art site back in the day, so I'm psyched to see that it has finally made its way online. Enjoy.

Link

(Thanks to Craig B. back in the day)

1972 ad promotes radiation

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

I found this 1972 Investor-Owned Electric Light and Power Companies ad in a Taschen collection.
Radioactivity. It's been in the family for generations. In fact, scientists can tell us just how old our remote ancestors are by measuring the radioactivity still in the bones of prehistoric cave dwellers.

Was this really reassuring? All of the dead people you've ever heard about are radioactive! Why not: "Radiation: because EVERYTHING causes cancer!"

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We're in the Future: Scientists Warn of Robot Overlords

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

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This article from the NY Times is a great read for those of you who feel, what with the lack of jetpacks and pizzas-in-a-pill, the present just really isn't the future you'd been promised. This is an article in a major, established, old-school publication talking about established scientists hand-wringing about how the robots we're building may become smarter than us, and, um, take over.

It's a fascinating thought, and one that a number of years ago still seemed well within the realm of science fiction. Autonomy has come very far in recent years, and the use of armed, semi-autonomous drones is now commonplace; it just makes sense for scientists and technologists to start thinking about some of these big issues now.

So, don't kick your Roomba.

( Also, it's interesting to take a look at where this all really started.)

Virginia, the Blind Dog

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

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One of my dogs, Virginia, went blind late last year. I knew it was coming; she has glaucoma, and lost sight in one of her eyes a while before. We'd been keeping the other eye alive with lots and lots of medicine, but the vet told us it was just a matter of time. So, when the morning came and I found her running around crazily all over the house, nose to the ground, I shouldn't have been surprised.

Still, I was pretty alarmed. And while I read lots on the internet about this, and even saw the articles that said not to panic, the dog will adapt, those articles were almost invariably written by the sort of hyper-caring earth-mother women who could say taking care of a limbless, eyeless, incontinent sea lion was an easy, rewarding experience anyone could do. I didn't really buy it.

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Test compares the way humans and chimps learn

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

Here's an interesting clip from a National Geographic documentary that compares the way humans and chimpanzees learn. When asked to perform a series of motions in order to get a treat out of a box, the human child will copy the adult's motions exactly. The ape copies the motions as well, until the box is replaced with a translucent version. Once it is, the ape realizes that half of the motions are pointless and takes a shortcut to get the treat; children, on the other hand, continue to do the meaningless motions that they were taught.

According to the filmmakers, this illustrates how both humans and chimps learn through copying, but children are "better" at it. That very well may be. But shouldn't the chimps should be given props for problem-solving here?

Experiments like this always drive me a bit crazy because the social setup isn't exactly parallel. Children are being asked to copy other humans, whereas the apes are expected to follow a different species. Would children be as good at copying (or obeying) if chimps were the ones giving instructions?

Of course, even if chimps were asked to imitate older chimps, they probably wouldn't copy as precisely as the children, and that's ultimately the filmmakers' point. The children are able to see rote repetition as the point of a game whereas the chimp might only be able to grasp "getting the treat."

Crows Recognize Human Faces

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

This NPR story basically confirms what I've always suspected: crows are very smart, and I never should have said those terrible things to that crow a few years back.

I really like crows, and occasionally I'll get a, well, murder of them in my backyard, where they all sit around and caw and cackle to each other, making a huge cacophony that sounds like some large family gatherings I've tried unsuccessfully to avoid. Maybe it's some sort of crow senate. Regardless, they're smart, and they know what you look like.

Reptilian Alien Tearing Through Fake Human Face Thermos

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

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Anyone remember the 1980s TV series V? I was a kid when they were on, and only barely remember it, but I do recall some reasonably creepy face-peeling by the reptilian aliens as they tore off their human masks to reveal their true, scaly selves.

Honestly, that's about all I remember. But just based on that, I wouldn't have guessed it as a good candidate for a kid's lunchbox set. But then I saw this Thermos on display at a diner in the California desert, and I realized how much growing up I have to do.

American eugenics movement archives

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

Should you ever care to delve into America's history with eugenics, the Image Archive on the American Eugenics Movement is a handy thing indeed. It's hard to believe eugenics was as popular here as it in fact was without seeing the visual evidence. The images here include Fitter Family contests, where white Americans competed at state fairs--much like cattle--to determine who had the best breeding. (Make sure to check out this traveling exhibit.) Also, lots of documents and flyers linking criminality to immigrants and heredity. (Oh, the irony of using the swastika to indicate the racial inferiority of Germans!) The interface is pretty clunky but it's worth pecking around.

For background on the early 20th century American eugenics movement, you could do worse than my interview with historian Daniel Kevles.

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Free online archive of vintage TV commercials

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

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The Hartman Center at Duke University has just launched AdViews, a collection of thousands of TV commercials from the 1950s-1980s, all from the archives of ad agency D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles. Early spots for IBM computers, Hasbro, Squibb, and a bunch of others are here. I especially enjoyed the Pampers spots; the narrative in them is so hilariously forced, it's almost porn-like. These ads don't promote a brand so much as the concept of disposability -- still a new idea at the time.

Unfortunately, the videos aren't nearly as accessible as the print ads in the other Duke/Hartman archives--they're on an iTunes channel, which allows for downloading but not much else. The archive is still a work in progress, though, and greater accessibility is planned for the future.

(Thanks, Skip!)


Odd Images of Escape Chute Lead to Better Story

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

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I originally scanned these images from yet another old 1970s Popular Science from my big stack purely for aesthetic reasons: these illustrations, out of context, are baffling and oddly appealing.

But then I read the article, about the Zephinie Escape Chute-- a sort of flexible nylon and fiberglass tube used to rescue people from emergencies in skyscrapers and other situations where the big problem is the distance between the people and the hard, unforgiving ground. There also seems to be a story behind this all-- a bitter, determined story, as Zephinie never seemed to have gotten certification in the US, and feels that sinister, unfair forces were at play.

The website has a bit of that Dr.Bronnerish rambling quality, but the idea certainly seems sound, and is in place in Europe and Asia. Plus, the site references some fascinating metrics like "90 teenagers evacuation per minute." I think the "x teenager evacuation/min" standard is one that probably has lots more use than we think.

For something that I thought was just a funny visual image, I stumbled upon a very interesting device and a compelling story. Not a bad deal from a 32-year old magazine.

Like Knight Rider, But That's No Car

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

I was looking at this old video I made with my old comedy group, the Van Gogh-Goghs and thought, "you know who might get a kick out of this? The internet". So I hope you enjoy. Also, it's sorta NSFW, so I'm posting it on Saturday, the Day of No Rules. Thanks!

India plans reform school for monkeys

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

Wild monkeys in India have grown so out of control that the state government is planning to build a school for rogue monkeys.

The problem of rogue monkeys is particularly severe in towns close to India's north-western border with Pakistan. Officials accuse them of a variety of bad behaviour from terrorising children, snatching food from people and destroying property... The proposed new monkey school will take in the "worst offenders" and put them through a crash course in good manners.
Indian school for rogue monkeys (via Monkeywire)
(Photo: Peter Garnham)

Bizarre Driving School Mural

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

Normally, the sign for a driving school isn't the sort of thing that haunts your mind, drawing you deeper and deeper into its depths, trying to puzzle out a narrative from its teasingly specific set of clues. A muffler shop, maybe, but not a driving school.

Except this one, on Venice Blvd. in Los Angeles. I'm not sure of the name, or really anything about the driving school, except that they have a wonderfully bizzare mural:

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Dead Goat Polo Arcade Game

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

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Some of you may have seen the amazing Soviet Arcade Machines Museum; this is up that same socialist alley: I started out trying to import a Polski Fiat from Poland, and somehow ended up with this: an old, beaten Ulak-Tartysh video game.

Ulak-Tartysh, for those of you not familiar with carcass-based sports, is essentially polo played with the headless body of a dead goat. It's popular in Central Asia, and especially in Kyrgyzstan, which is where this fascinating game hails from. This one appears to have been built in 1983, at some state-run electronics factory in the city of Mailuu-Suu. The coin slots say "15 Kopeks," but I think at that time all the USSR satellite states used that denomination.

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Sex Education for the mentally handicapped

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

My friend Skip, who runs the AV Geeks sections at Archive.org, has collected a ton of vintage educational films. The ABC of Sex Education for Trainables is a thoughtful, fascinating look at how social workers in the 1970s taught the mentally handicapped about sex.


Skip's DVD collections--focused on everything from venereal disease to ecology to nutrition and propaganda--are very much worth your while.

Artist Heidi Cody and her grocery store mascot mutiny

Artist Heidi Cody makes all kinds of crazy work using corporate mascots and scenes of nature as portrayed on grocery store packaging. With collaborator Pete Beeman, she currently has this large kinetic sculpture (below) showing at the LAB Gallery in New York (47th & Lexington) through July 31.

In Ad Nauseam, I wrote about how her work illustrates the extent to which consumer culture has become our natural environment. We can identify corporate logos by the tiniest fragment, but can barely name a single plant or tree native to our neighborhoods.


Ronald Raydon Stories

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

On my way to my neighborhood auto parts store one morning, I saw a diminutive, shabby, bearded man standing by the side of the road with an armload of papers. As I approached, I saw a sign: "$1 Stories." Excited, I fished a dollar out from my pants somewhere and handed it to him out the window; I think he fanned out his stack of stories to let me pick, but he may have just handed me one at random. I can't really remember, and it doesn't matter, since so far everything I've read of his has been great in its own odd way.

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UPDATE! I've reduced the posted story to just an excerpt; I was going back and forth about it, but enough well-meaning killjoys in the comments pointed out that as a copyrighted story, there were issues in posting it all online, especially since the donation I suggested went to the homeless shelter as opposed to the author directly, who is still unreachable. I'll keep trying to find him, and if I can hunt him down and get his ok, I'll put the whole thing back up, and possibly some more. Still, I encourage everyone to read the excerpt and donate to the LA Midnight mission, and I promise to reflect on what a monster I am. Thanks!

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What your dad had instead of email scammers

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

Yet again I've dragged out some little ad from a 1977 Popular Science; I just can't help myself. This one is especially good:

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So, here we have President Malcom J. Roebuck telling me, with a look of dead-eyed seriousness, that I can make $25 to $100 per hour by making and selling "metal pin-back badges" made with his $35 button crimper doohickey. Let's use his own figures here and break down exactly what it would take in the "profitable badge and button business" to make this $25 to $100/hour.

So, to even hit his low end, I need to sell 10 of these an hour, every hour. That's assuming I'm only selling the expensive "photo" buttons and have zero expenses-- say, I stole the machine and am just punching images from discarded newspapers and ATM receipts. Roebuck, please. I can't even imagine the convoluted chain of events that would have to happen for you to hit the $100/hour number, but I bet it would involve a stadium full of people, and you and your button-making machine being the only source for an antidote for something.

So, $100/hr in 1977 dollars, selling cheap-ass pins you make on the crappy little crimper you bought from this crook. I'd really love to see the "fully illustrated money making plans" he offers as well. I bet they have tips like "Make sure everyone you know buys several buttons, every day, forever! It's THAT EASY!"

Monkey suspected in garden store heist

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

A monkey is the prime suspect in a garden store burglary that recently took place in Richardson, Texas. The monkey was caught on surveillance video maneuvering through the shop, Plants and Planters. Owners of said shop have deduced that the monkey was trained by a human (since monkeys in the wild don't steal flower pots) to collect the goods and hand them over the fence. As of this writing, the monkey--and his or her owner--remains on the loose.

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcdfw.com/video.

Link (via Monkeys in the News)

Holy Vending Machine

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

I'm not sure what I like more, that you can get a miniature Bible or a set of Rosaries for 50ยข, or that this is owned by a company called "Impulse Amusements". You know, for when you find it impulsively amusing to have the blood of Christ wash away your sins.

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Plus, my ichthyologist's brother's friend's horse's roomate's cousin swears he once got a piece of the True Cross in one of these.

Mexican melodrama spoof "Uso Justo"

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

Several years ago, when I put together the Illegal Art Exhibit, Craig Baldwin turned me on to "Uso Justo," a short film by Coleman Miller, and it was always one of my favorites in the show. Miller took a vintage Mexican melodrama and, by writing his own subtitles, turned it into an experimental film that it itself a sort of meta-commentary on experimental film. A terribly funny one at that.

Vimeo and Blip TV have the full thing. As far as I know, a higher res version is available only via Mr. Miller himself.

Readings on ambivalent parenting

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

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You could burn most every guide to parenting babies and the world would suffer no great loss, but, as the mother of a one-year-old, I feel compelled to endorse a few standout pieces of writing that have helped me survive babycare.

First, Jeff Vogel's diary of raising his daughter Cordelia, as an infant, then toddler.

I watched TV, peacefully, with Cordelia lying on the couch next to me. She made some mildly fussy noises, so I picked her up, took her into the nursery, and checked her diaper. I then found that she had shat out, conservatively, 70% of her body weight. The waste product flowed around the diaper like the wind passes by a stick. I had to cross myself. It was majestic... I am almost positive that she can unhinge her hip bones.

Second: this bit of fiction by the late, great postmodern writer Donald Barthelme:

The first thing the baby did wrong was to tear pages out of her books. So we made a rule that each time she tore a page out of a book she had to stay alone in her room for four hours, behind the closed door. She was tearing out about a page a day, in the beginning, and the rule worked fairly well, although the crying and screaming from behind the closed door were unnerving...

Finally, Tom Scocca's "Underparenting" column at theawl.com is excellent.

(via Daniel Radosh, Daddytypes)

Improbable Video Games

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

I gave an arcade game-making lecture at Machine Project while ago, and as a joke I made some images of what I thought were wildly unlikely video game subjects:

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And then, a few weeks later, I saw this:

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What Worked Then

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

Usually when we look back with smug amusement at technology from the past, the size-related thing that makes us chuckle is how large everything was. The old cellphones that were like holding a lunchbox to your face, the Walkmen that were like carry-on bags-- but we shouldn't forget the joy that comes from laughing at things that now seem too small.

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Flashback to 1968: Rolling Stone attacks the counterculture

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

Depending on your age, you may (consciously or not) hold the belief that, at some point in time, Rolling Stone magazine had some sort of political "edge." I know I did, until I came across this article (below) by Jann Wenner actively discouraging readers from taking part in the historic protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

Wenner deplores the "recklessness and thorough lack of moral compunction that characterize" the protests organizers, the Yippies including Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman. The cops beat up protesters, he argues, so why would you want to go? Wenner also seems to resent the fact that the Yippies broke the rules of organized dissent and cleverly used media to their ends. They want to hold a press conference at the Hotel Roosevelt instead of a church because it plays better with reporters = outrage!

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A Few Questions

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist, started a webcasting company, and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

1. You just got change, and you have a Canadian penny. What do you do?
a. Demand a real penny, damn it, not one of these cheap knock-offs

b. Check with those nearby to see if you really are in Canada, and if so, find out why

c. Swallow it, quick, before they find you

d. Unwrap it and eat the chocolate

2. You find an eclair in your sock drawer. You:

a. Put on a pair of socks

b. Put on the eclair

c. Look for the other eclair, cause there must be a pair

d. Pinch yourself cuz you must be dreaming

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Ads as Soulcatchers

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

So my wife Sally saw this ad on her Facebook page:
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Now, this is confusing for many reasons. Most obviously, why does that gothed-out hotula want me to advertise my church so badly? I swear, she's looking right at me. When you click the ad, you end up here, which is a part of Truth Advertising, a direct-mail marketing company that specializes in churches.

I'm sure the churches that use this have noble intentions, but there's just something profoundly creepy about it all. The strange meshing of religion and corporate-type business never sits well-- and this works both ways, both when religion is infused with corporate culture or when corporate culture becomes quasi-religious, like some of those Steven Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People weirdos I've met.

Plus, and I can't put my finger on exactly what it is, but there's some overdone quality about almost everything that tries to mesh religion and mainstream commercial culture that makes things look just a bit off. Maybe it's too many Photoshop filters. I bet, given a lineup of these ads with their copy blocked out, you could pick out the ones for a church and the ones for a godless business.

Maybe I'll try praying at a Staples for a while and see how it goes.