Friday, September 29, 2006

As Dennis Miller used to say,

I am outta here.

Since Blogger is less reliable than wireless broadband in Albania, I'm heading over to TypePad. It costs a little, but I should be able to do things like post more often than once per new pope election. Here be the link.

I'm going to leave everything up here for the time being, but this site will not be updated again, ever. See you at the new place.

Friday, September 15, 2006

It's turning fallish. I can smell the snark in the air

If it hadn’t been for the missus, I’d never have found it. She’d been talking about the Chelsea Antique Mall, a sizeable establishment outside of Birmingham named in honor of the former president’s daughter. Either that, or it got its name from the city of Chelsea, where it’s located. I haven’t done that much research on it, to be honest.

At any rate, we drove out there a few weekends ago to peruse and see if there were any suitable snark targets. And while we didn’t set any records in terms of quantity, we flat-out slapped one out of the park and into the third solar system on the right.

Lemme explain.

In amidst some fair-to-middling snark bits, there was one gem of pure fifties cheese. It wasn’t in the best of shape, and it had acquired a patina of sepia in the intervening decades, but I didn’t care. All it had was some of The. Greatest. Pictures. EVAR. As the ubiquitous they are wont to say, with some pretty knee-slapping copy to go along with those pics.

The first few pages are in really rough shape, so I don’t know when it was published, and the spine only says “1001 Hints Etiquette,” which I doubt was the complete title. No matter. It’s in good enough shape to see that it was a series of fifties-era ridiculously over-the-top fake letters to “Jennie,” a pseudo-Ann Landers for the clueless, and Jennie’s equally over-the-top answers.

Now, let’s get this retro party started. (I scanned these with the old scanner, so you’ll have to overlook any streaks for the time being. I’ll rescan ’em later with the new unit.)

Eat, drink and spend Daddy's money

"Whee! Somebody loves me, and I’m all aglow. Kenny Miller, a boy in my English class, recently called up and asked if he could come over and compare notes with me on our Macbeth papers. We worked at a big table in our living-room while Mother and Dad read, and it was all very peaceful until we went out to the kitchen for a snack. It didn’t seem to me that I was being unduly generous with the family vittles, but Mother and Daddy nearly blew two fuses when they discovered what I had fed him. Wouldn’t you think they’d be delighted that I was clever enough to attract a boy, that they’d be happy to let me treat him rather royally?"

I wasn’t around (really) in the fifties, but I’m willing to wager that not even then did girls write out “Whee!” in letters. (As the late Mitch Hedberg said, “That's what you say when you're having fun. You refer to yourself and some other people.”) And judging by the picture, it doesn’t look like she did much more than make him a sandwich. Sure, it’s a Dagwood, but still, she didn’t sear the filet mignon and pry open the Dom Perignon. I think Mom and Dad are more concerned that Tess is 35 and still living at home, using words like “vittles” and expressions like “blew two fuses.” Not since a 29-year-old Alan Ruck tried to pass himself off as teenage Cameron Frye has there been such a miscast. And Kenny looks like he should be a stand-in for Irving R. Levine at the CBS bureau office. Y’all just need to grow up and move out. That’ll pacify the parental units.

And that ain't a bottle of milk he's staring at.

I spent hours perfecting that forehead curl

Awwww, isn’t she just the cutest thing? Makes you want to pick her up and put her in your pocket. Where she’d no doubt pout and carry on that Tiffany’s father kept her in a much nicer pocket, and if you really loved her, you’d have a gold-lined pocket for her.

Here’s the question perky princess Jennie M. posed to Jennie the Advice-Giver: “Jo-Jo Hanley, who is absolutely top-man at our school, called me up a few weeks ago and asked me for a date. My brother claims I drooled into the telephone at him and predicted that the date would be a flop because I was so eager. I was, and it was—but what can you do when your blood pressure is 220? Another heavenly guy has just asked me to go to dinner and a hockey game with him, and what I need is a blue-print for a successful evening. What should I talk about? What’ll I do if he tries to kiss me? What should I think if he doesn’t? I’m sorely in need of plain ordinary dating know-how.”

Wait. Did she predict that the date would be a flop? ’Cause that’s how it reads. Dang antecedents.

I think the problem isn’t Jennie M. being anxious. It’s that while her blood pressure is 220, her IQ is more like the cube root of that number.

And why is she using Andre the Giant’s telephone?

Um, I'm a little shy

Oh boy. A young James Caan has taken his best girl out to Chez Froufrou, but he’s short on funds, credit cards for teens haven’t been invented yet, and it’s not like he can call Mom for backup, since that meddling Mrs. Mendelbright is always tying up the party line. Plus, Mr. Condescending Waiter is about to ask the bouncer to “Make sure the little feller ain’t holding out on us.”

Hope his date eventually loosens up enough to relax that death grip on her purse and hold his hand while he’s washing dishes.

What's a few plies of tissue when you're competing for boys?

“Why, oh why, did I have to listen to that tramp Tammy Sue Powell and stuff my bra that much? She knew full well that some of that stuffing would fall out while I was doing the twist, and now the whole school will call me Kleenex Cleavage.”

That platinum'll soak into your brain, they tell me

I’m not saying she doesn’t deserve it, because I’m certain she does, but it’s just a jarring sight to see two people gossiping so openly, right there in front of their subject.

Here’s what Beth S. posed to Jennie, with my comments in brackets.

“I’ve just come back from visiting my love who is a freshman at the State University, and my head is a-buzz. [Snort.] In order not to be a spectacle (you see, I’m still in high school and I knew I’d be competing with droves of smooth college girls), I changed the naïve hair-do I usually wear, did over my little-girl nails and bought myself my first pack of cigarettes.” [I’m supposed to believe that, up until this trip to the creatively named State U., this trollop looked like Ralph Monroe from “Green Acres,” had a “naïve” hair-do, whatever that is, and had never bought a pack of Lucky Strikes? Don’t yank my chain, Daddy-O.] When I arrived I realized I had overdone it completely. [Because college boys can’t stand a showy girl. Turns them right off.] The wrong clothes weren’t my only worry. For instance, I only nodded to the chaperones, but I wonder whether this was rude. How big a tip should I have left the ladies’ room attendant? And should I have paid for any of my meals? [And what about that knife-fight in the Sigma Sigma Beta lobby? Is it customary to stanch the bleeding when you’ve just cut open a debutante with your homemade shiv because she stepped on your stilletto heels?]

Honestly, the Army makes me carry it!

Supposedly, this “best beau” committed the sin of buying too nice a gift for his girl. But judging by the look on their faces and the saturated melodrama in the scene, it’s more likely that Mother is saying, “Young man, can you explain the presence of the prophylactic you had hidden in this lunchbox? And don’t lie to me, because you know I still swing a mean cricket bat.”

Chuck Buzzcut and Sally Simpleton

Cookieholics of a certain age will look at this picture and instantly think, “One ringy dingy, two ringy dingy. Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?”

What did Tina E./Ernestine have to say?

“I have just lost my second good job within six months—this one with a newspaper. I loved the work and I had just met Joe—the most wonderful fellow I’ve ever known—so I am doubly crushed. I am a conscientious worker, although a couple of Monday mornings following late nights with Joe I did slip in late, and perhaps we rehashed our dates occasionally on company time. Once it was our luck to go up in the elevator with the boss after one of our long lunches. Still, my work was always caught up. Can you tell me what was wrong with this behavior so that this doesn’t happen again?”

Uranium isn’t that dense. And if she’s really stupid enough to ask those questions, she’s no doubt wondering why she can’t hear Bill Haley and Frankie Avalon on that funny radio she’s holding.

What's taking you so long?

These two pictures actually have to do with a story about a cousin who came for a 10-day visit and wasn’t a good house guest. But that wasn’t what you were thinking.

Horrors! Mother makes me date!

Smut! Smutty smut, right there in the pages of an etiquette magazine! Why, this should be sold behind the counter at that seemy gas station where all the young hipsters hang out.

The copy: “Can you tell me why parents are so absolutely heartless on the subject of going steady? I am really in love with Jack, a boy at school. Nevertheless, Mother insists that I accept any other dates I’m offered and that I see Jack only once a week.

She’s afraid that if we see each other too often we’d be tempted to over-indulge in love-making. She has a point. There have been nights recently when we’ve been alone in his car—when good resolutions have looked pale.

What should people like Jack and me do, who only enjoy each other’s company and yet who are a temptation for each other? We plan to be married some day, and so is there any real point in our clinging so desperately to chastity?”

Not if a awkward backward smooch is what you call lovemaking.

It came from Planet Brylcreem

What distressed these two young upstanding citizens so? What wretched hellspawn could freeze their heartbeat and led them to cling to each other as if Beelzebub himself were breathing his miasmic breath on them?

Why, only SlimyMcSlimerson, the most unappealing character the fifties ever produced. Don't you just want to beat him senseless with his own penny loafers?

That’s it for now. More in a day or so, including the absolutely greatest picture ever. I promise.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

What can brown do for you?

Bring me a new scanner, in this case.

You may have noticed that the scans I've been putting up lately have some streaks in them. That's because the scanner I have has been burned or scratched or some such underneat the glass by the light bar. Evidently, HP didn't factor in extremes of light and heat when it was designing a scanner.

But the UPS website tells me that my brand-spanking (I opted for the pre-spanked model; less wear and tear on the hands that way) new Canon scanner is waiting for me. And if you email me to tell me Canon scanners are sorrier than gully dirt, I will be forced to hunt you down and actively mock you behind your back, right to your face.

So, I should have some new scannage shortly.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Once again, the seventies comes in for a beating

And of course, the beating is a deserved one. This collection of ugliness comes from a Bloomingdale's book written by Barbara Darcy, who, according to this page, is a member of the Interior Design Hall of Fame.

Maybe the nominating committee just forgave this book.

One pattern, a million surfaces

I like the way the furniture covering just blends on into the wall covering, like a pocket on a plaid shirt.

Don't be an adobe criminal

Another in the Torture Room Series. Low-hanging roof beams that even Billy Barty would bash his skull on, various and sundry loose articles just peachy for impaling, a regular OSHA catalog of trip hazards, and to top it all off, a fireplace that’s not connected to the chimney.

Oh, and that whole “It’s ugly” thing, too.

So close, and yet, well, not that close, really

I almost like this. Almost. I’ve always been a sucker for attic rooms, probably since Greg/Johnny Bravo had that groovy pad on “The Brady Bunch.” And if this room weren’t so weirded up, it could reach that quirky-cool zone. But like the kid in junior high who just has to have everybody like him, it’s just trying too hard. Plus I’d feel like I was in the hold of Noah’s ark with that roof.

When Obsessive-Compulsive Decorators Attack! Tonight on Fox!

You know, just because a pattern is pretty doesn’t mean that you have to etch it onto every spare inch of space. The jumbled-up furnishings make it look like the photographer refused to snap the picture until at least some of that pattern was covered up, and the props people just grabbed the first things they could find.

Big brown globs of masticated paper pulp

“Would you believe cardboard!” the copy kinda asks, since the sentence is followed by an exclamation point instead of a question mark. (Sorry. My latent Grammar Naziism flares up now and then, Mein Fuhrer.) And I answer “Yes, I would.” It’s pretty easy to believe it’s cardboard when it’s mushy brown and corrugated.

On the plus side, the room is self-absorbent. On the down side, after a few spilled Tabs or Mr. Pibbs, the whole thing gets wavy.

Elsie never saw that slug coming

Ahh, nothing goes with paisley like butchered Holstein on the floor. Unless it’s the canopy bedlet in front of the fireplace. I guess that’s for people who find smoking unfiltered Marlboros just too wussy and want to snork up concentrated split oak fumes.

Comma, comma down dooby doo DOWN, DOWN, DOWN

This whole room is just too perky.

Note: I haven’t Photoshopped this a bit. It’s really that dark. Evidently, Sylvia Plath also dabbled in room decoration. Makes an opium den look like the Teletubbies set.

Of course, in Alabama, the Tuscaloosa

Why just one tusk? Evidently, it wasn’t weird enough to have that sproingy chandelier/interrogation device hanging in the center of the room, so the decorator had to further unbalance everything with just one tusk.

Or maybe she was just a Fleetwood Mac fan.

Welcome to the Grotto

Freeform Lucite, Rorschach patterns on the walls, varying levels and a Mylar bed. Cozy, ain’t it?

I would like to have that television, though.

Medieval hunting chic

Ted Nugent meets Henry VIII. Not good.

All together now: “99 flagons of grog on the wall, 99 flagons of grog. If one of those flagons should happen to fall, 98 flagons of grog on the wall…”

In a white room, with purple beanbags

“Hello, Ms. Darcy? This is Mrs. Fennington Bennington IV. I’m redecorating my Manhattan apartment, and I hear you are quite the rage amongst the cognoscenti. Here’s what I have in mind: soulless. Complete, sere, soullessness. I want my place to inspire abject depression and determined wrist-slashing at a moment’s glance. Can you do that?”

Ah, ah, ah, ah, staying tacky, staying tacky

Again with the neverending pattern, only this time it’s on top of a glossy mirrored floor last seen under Tony Manero’s shoes.

And Liberace wants his chandelier back.

Better start that Zoloft drip

Sunken floor made even uglier by the use of lattice stripped from a tacky gazebo and what looks like cheetah-footprint wallpaper.

Have that Helot peel me a mango!

Gahhhh! What did my retinas ever do to you, lady? The Roman Emperor look is bad enough, but it’s not necessary to molest my eyeballs with that orange, too.

The Neverending Pattern

Holly Hobbie was raised in this house. The earthy, seventies Holly Hobbie. Not this one.

Stop thinking so pink

The only way this could be made more quintessentially seventies would be if the pink light pulsated. Back then, coupling this with a Barry White could get you pregnant at 100 yards.

Weeee doggies, Mobutu

You know how the Clampetts couldn’t shake that Ozark Mountain upbringing, no matter how much money they had in the Commerce Bank? This room is what would happen if a Masai warrior struck oil and moved to Manhattan.

Nah, that won't get old fast. No way

This here is what you call seventies perfection. That’s a projection on the walls, and the copy notes that you could change the picture to match your mood. Bonus cool points for the inflatable furniture.

Pipe me aboard

When you're going for that homey feeling, nothing beats perforated PVC pipe. If it’s good enough for your septic system's field lines, it’s good enough for your walls. As an added bonus, you can safely develop film in this Red Menace of a room.

I've got stripes, stripes along my hallway

When you care enough to ruin the very best.

Taken singly, some of this stuff actually wouldn’t be that bad. (Wall striping notably excepted.) Cram them all together, though, and it’s thoroughly toxic.

Not very mellow yellow

The chairman of the Chiquita Banana Company loved his new office.