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

Here's an index for our book, Ad Nauseam

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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It's a long (or, rather, uninteresting) story but our book, Ad Nauseam, doesn't have an index. I was hoping that Amazon's "search inside" feature could help fill that gap, but our publisher says it takes a while for Amazon to make it functional.

So I've gone ahead and made an index myself. I have no idea how to make an index, frankly, and there are no doubt a number of typos, but for those of you who have bought the book or are considering buying it, it's better than nothing. And if anyone wants to list typos in the comments, I'll update the index accordingly. Thanks.

Link (pdf)

Some Mighty Fine Turbine Porn

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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If you're one of the (most likely imaginary) people that have been following my posts religiously, you might remember when I posted about the Black Widow turbine-powered Beetle a few days ago. Now, I have some scans from Turbonique's Hot Rotor magazine, which is jam-packed with great pictures of truly bonkers jet-powered vehicles, and jam-unpacked with words.

Many of the images have the parts presented on flat-color backgrounds, making for some really satisfying compositions, aesthetically. And, in the few pictures with people, they always appear stiff and with oddly blank expressions, which makes the images even better, somehow. Enjoy.

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(Thanks, Chris!)

Maybe These Massive Wheel Spikes Shouldn't be Legal

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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By nature, I'm not a guy particularly interested in safety concerns, but when I saw these massive wheel spikes on this big rig on the 5 freeway the other day, I couldn't help but wonder if having something normally associated with a brutal chariot race is such a hot idea.

This picture doesn't quite do them justice, but these spikes are no joke; they could easily turn a close call into a harrowing, screaming gash torn into the bodywork of your car. I've never seen these before, but, then again, I don't really do that much driving in a post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland ruled by gangs of mechanized toughs.

Is this the first D-pad?

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.

To a certain group of dedicated dorks, videogame controllers and their history is fiercely interesting, even to the point of having dedicated T-shirts. It's to those folks I present this discovery: this looks like it may be the first product (image from a 1977 ad) with a joypad-like device, used for user input (enlargement mine):
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Ah, the CALCUPEN. Now, I know Gunpei Yokoi usually gets credit for those little 4-way rocker switches first used on the famous Game & Watch series, but it sure looks like our little Calcupen has five of the things running up its nerdy spine there. Granted, they're used for numerical input as opposed to direction control, but it's essentially the same device. I bet, if one was lucky enough to find one, a Calcupen could be wired to act as an old Nintendo controller!

Maybe the Calcupen is really that missing link between nerd productivity culture and nerd time-wasting culture. I smell a dissertation.

Strange Architectural Typeface Choice

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.

This is a building in downtown Los Angeles. It's a pretty straightforward classic-style building, what with doubled Ionic columns and all the usual classic Greek/Roman detailing one expects out of these sorts of buildings. But, at some point in the building's life, it was renovated, and whoever was in charge decided the best typeface to use on the pediment there would be something that made the building look like a backdrop in a bad 80s scifi movie. Like that really should say "Terran Space Senate Headquarters" or something.

It's such a strange and jarring contrast, I'm surprised it got the go-ahead. But I think I like it.

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Books by people who have raised apes in their homes

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.

As mentioned earlier, I collect books by people who have raised apes or monkeys in their homes, so, as a service to Boing Boing readers, I thought I'd review them for you.
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Toto and I: A Gorilla in the Family, by A Maria Hoyt (1941)

A charming memoir by an eccentric heiress who brought Toto home after her husband, working for the Museum of Natural History in New York, shot Toto's mother on the hunt for a specimen. Despite marrying a mommy killer, Hoyt goes to the wall to help young Toto, even moving to Cuba to accommodate her charge. There are lots of choice anecdotes in this book but my favorite involve sleep training the gorilla. Like many children, Toto insisted on sleeping with her parents. Caregiver Thomas and Toto slept in separate beds in Toto's room; each night over the course of month, Tomas moved his bed farther and farther away from Toto until he was actually out of her room. (Incidentally, this is essentially the same method recommended by the Sleep Lady.) Before Toto was weaned from cosleeping, however, she "punished" Tomas by locking him in her bedroom:

[Toto] slammed the door after him, deftly locking it from the playroom side. Since the windows were heavily barred, Tomas was now securely confined with Toto, his jailer, dancing in triumphant joy in the other room.... For over an hour, he stayed there securely locked up. Then, growing a little weary of the game, he called Toto to the door, scolded her severely and told her to unlock it and let him out. Shamefacedly, she obeyed...

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Lucy: Growing Up Human, A Chimpanzee Daughter in a Psychotherapist's Family, by Maurice K. Temerlin (1972)

Touchy-feely account by a nut job (Maurice Temerlin, aka Maury) who goes to great lengths to maintain a relationship with his chimpanzee "daughter." Lucy is by all accounts an extremely precocious chimp; the stories here are lively and engaging but often for the wrong reasons. I could write at length about this book but instead I'll just share one telling anecdote. Maury, like many caretakers of primates, insists on calling Lucy his daughter. Most of such quasi-parents keep their charges in cages and use cattle prods or other devices to keep them in line. Not Maury. But he's got his own bizarre ideas of what it means to be a dad:

Lucy attempts to mouth my penis whenever she sees it, whether I am urinating, bathing, or having an erection. As a matter of fact I think it is accurate to say that Lucy is fascinated by the human penis since she attempts to explore it with her mouth whenever she can, unless it is mine and she is swollen in estrus.

So Maury frequently has erections in the company of his "daughter" and observes her putting penises (not just his own!) in her mouth. And, wait, there's more: "I found this a very interesting observation as throughout the years of my deep affection for Lucy I never experienced sexual desire for her. " Interesting? Really? She's supposed to be your daughter? And a chimp!

Maury ended up getting fired from his job as head of the psychology department at the University of Oklahoma. Lucy, however, triumphed: after nearly 18 years with crazy Maury and his wife (a record), she became one of the very rare chimps who was successfully re-introduced into the wild in Africa.

Read the rest

Let Go, Let Brown

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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Are you one of those folks who loves God? I mean really loves God? As in enough to make the visual association between your Lord and a noted package delivery company?

Because, friend, that's what it takes to wear this garment. If you're just one of those fly-by-night, loves-God-only-enough-to-associate-Him-with-a-soft-drink types, then keep walking.

(Thanks, Galen!)

Movie recommendation: People of the Forest: The Chimps of Gombe

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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Though I consider myself an ape enthusiast, I've never really cottoned to movies starring chimps. Chimps dressed in clothing performing slapstick gags just isn't my thing. Documentaries about primates usually aren't much better; they tend to be dry and humorless, sucking all the spirit out of their subjects while portraying their depressing circumstances. Also, there's just something incongruous about watching "nature" documentaries on TV screens. But People of the Forest: The Chimps of Gombe transcends all this. In a word, it's awesome. The documentary draws on 20 years of footage to tell the stories of a group of chimps that Jane Goodall followed in Gombe, Tanzania. It's as sweet and funny and heart-rending as any great feature film. Highly recommended. (The movie is out of print, but Amazon has a few copies, or you may be able to get it via P2P.)

Kerry Tribe's H.M.

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.

Earlier this year, I did a bit of technical work for an artist, Kerry Tribe, on her installation/film project called H.M. It was a remarkable piece. At its core, it was a documentary about a man who had some experimental neurosurgery that left him with an active memory of 20 seconds. What made the piece so remarkable was that it played back on two 16mm projectors, the film being delayed by exactly 20 seconds from one to the other. The film was shot in such a way that the two projections, displaced in time by 20 seconds, worked together uncannily well, sometimes displaying complementary images, and even, in one visually notable part, forming a complete image that spanned over the two screens. It's pretty great.

Kerry and I are in the early stages of a collaboration I'm quite excited about, but even if I wasn't I'd encourage everyone to check out more of her work. There's not really a good way to see H.M. online, since the mechanical projectors and the maze of looped film form such an integral part of the piece, but I think it is traveling around a bit, so the best I can tell you is to keep your eyes open for it.

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Coincidence?

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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This is something I found a good while ago, and have posted at other places online; but it's just one of those things that I think merits looking back at, periodically, to help better understand the mysteries of existence.

The top, of course, is that famous picture of Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald. The bottom is the cast of Bagger Vance, horsing around at the opening night party, as seen in Variety.

Were they trying to recreate this image? If so, why the hell would they do that? Did the photographer see the resemblance? There's so many questions here, all vastly more interesting than anything Bagger Vance normally produces.

Man. It gives me chills.

The Most Elephantest Switch You've Ever Seen

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.

This is a power switch salvaged from an old PC. It is also the switch that most resembles an elephant, beating out its nearest competitor by a factor of 5. In fact, on the SPRS (Standardized Pachyderm Resemblance Scale) it scored an incredible 8.4-- a mammoth only scores 8.2!

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Remember this day. One day, your kids will ask where you were when you saw it.

More Griping About Advertising: Bing Edition

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.

My previous rant about an advertising campaign had pretty mixed results, so let's try again. This time I want to talk about the television campaign for Microsoft's new search engine, Bing.

My problem with these ads is that they rely on one of the oldest, hoariest advertising tricks in the book: make up the disease, then sell the cure. This has been done for years; occasional bad breath became the dread disease "halitosis" in the 1930s, thanks to Listerene (which had previously been sold as, among other things, a dandruff tonic), for example. Now Microsoft is going to save us from "Search Overload Syndrome."



Read the rest

Old Ad for Fake Guns

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.

You know how hard it is to find that perfect gift for that special someone in your life who really wants to get killed by a cop, but doesn't want to actually endanger anybody? I think I may have the answer right here. All you need is $44.95 and probably a time machine back to 1977, because I can't imagine this is legal now.

This ad brings up so many questions: who is this targeted at? Even in a theater prop sort of context, I don't see how the weight and feel would matter. Is it for potential criminals, who want the intimidation of a gun but are hedging their bets if they get caught, it won't be with a deadly weapon? It does say "will fool experts," I bet especially if the "expert" is looking down the barrel of it.

The best line is, of course, "Decorate your den, office, rec-room." I can just imagine it. "Oh, your potpourri bowl artfully strewn with pistols is absolutely wonderful!" A few handguns tossed around in just the right spots really makes a rec-room, too.

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New book on viral culture: And Then There's This

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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My friend Bill Wasik has a book out now that should appeal to Boing Boing types, And Then There's This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture. Several years ago, Wasik started the Mob Project, which launched flash mobs as an insanely popular fad in New York, then globally. We interviewed him in Stay Free! about it a while back.

Wasik's book looks at how ideas spread online through social networks and other media channels. In each chapter, Wasik, who is an editor at Harper's magazine, conducts some sort of prank to explore the ways single messages can evolve and have massive ripple effects. I especially dug his observations on how the internet and mp3 swapping have affected indie rock (since, as a clueless middle-ager, I haven't kept up): with bands and their careers now playing a much smaller role than individual songs and musicians.

Top 10 Ironic Ads From History

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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Earlier this month, Jason and I guest blogged at Consumerist. Here's something I posted there that might interest you all as well:
Remember when you could buy barbiturates for the baby? Cover your house with asbestos? Or get heroin from the doctor? Okay, probably not, but thanks to the immortal beauty of advertising, you can take a trip back in time. Here's our pick of some of the most ironic ads in American history.
(with apologies to my writing partner, Torchinsky, who loves Corvairs)

Link