Annoying Gadgets

We all love gadgets. Except for the truly useless and frustrating devices. Those we hate and ridicule. The Japanese actually have a term and category for such items: Chindōgu.

Recently, while browsing through the catalog for WHATEVER WORKS, I found two examples of Chindōgu.

This anti-cootie sack for the paranoid traveler seems utterly useless. Wouldn't the bedbugs crawl inside within seconds of contact?'

This spinning fork is guaranteed to suck all the pleasure out of an eternal childhood pastime: making S'mores. When the batteries die and the plastic handle melts, all the fun comes to a tearful end.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jul 30, 2008 - Comments (5)
Category: Business, Products, Domestic, Food, Inventions, Travel, Hotels

Follies of the Mad Men #6

[From The Saturday Evening Post for January 29, 1966.]

Of course, the very first thing you'll load aboard your interstellar ship is a new Frigidaire. What's that you say? These women are not astronauts, but rather futuristic housewives, and the Fridge remains earthbound? Then why are they wearing those bubble helmets? Future pollution? But what about the helmet that features a cutout? And the slit glasses? If only the geniuses who created this ad were still around, we could ask them to explain....

Posted By: Paul - Tue Jul 29, 2008 - Comments (13)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Domestic, Fashion, Food, Futurism, Literature, Science Fiction, Travel, Space Travel

Life Imitates The Simpsons:  The Sip Joint

As anyone who has endured five minutes of conversation with me knows, I'll often relate real-life events to The Simpsons. That show, like the Bible and the works of Shakespeare, has now reached a canonical mass such that you may find a textual reference applicable to any real-world situation.

Today's printed version of THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL offers me another such occasion. There's an article headlined "Police Raid After-Hours 'Sip Joint' in Silver Lake." Inexplicably, though, this piece is not online, so far as I can google. But the barebones of the tale is told in a subheading. "A 17-year-old male who was allegedly caught dispensing beer has been referred to the Youth Services Bureau for prosecution in Family Court."

An older article which is still available gives us this definition of a "sip joint."

"A sip joint, according to the police, is a place where a bar is set up — usually a house — for the illegal sale of alcoholic beverages at times when bars are closed."

Now, I've often been strapped for cash, but I've never once thought of setting up a tavern in my residence. Yet to geniuses like Homer Simpson, such a plan is their first instinct, as we saw at the end of this episode.

The term "sip joint" itself seems exceedingly rare, and perhaps limited to Rhode Island.

Can readers supply instances of this practice, and what it's called, from their own regions?

Posted By: Paul - Fri Jul 25, 2008 - Comments (18)
Category: Business, Crime, Stupid Criminals, Domestic, Inebriation and Intoxicants, Regionalism

Follies of the Mad Men #5



[NOTE: this is actually two image files, upper and lower, and you need to click on each one for enlargement. From The Saturday Evening Post for October 23, 1965.]

Sorry I didn't get this one up in time for Fourth of July--but then again, WU hadn't debuted then!

In any case, this ad is very confused. It seems to be appealing to the mystical vibe of the ever-iconic American War of Independence, what with the flintlock pistol and all. But then again, Sexy Car-crawling Girl is patently an attempt to attract the Pepsi Generation, those wild 'n' wacky "rebellious" kids, with their surfboards and long hair and love beads.

So who's supposed to want to buy a Polara? Mom and Pop Daughters-of-the-American-Revolution? Or little Janie Peace-Sign?

Posted By: Paul - Tue Jul 22, 2008 - Comments (11)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Guns, History, Patriotism, 1960s, Cars

Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!

This is one of my favorite warning signs. Whenever I'm out on my pedestrian travels and I see it, it makes me smile. Why? I'm not a sadistic, morbid fellow. But the iconography is just so kinetic, remiscent of the travails of Mr. Bill or a Charles Addams cartoon.

Safety signs are everywhere, but ignored. Surely, though, pranksters could have a lot of fun with them. Here's the sales site where I plundered my image.

And finally, in the immortal words of Dave Barry, "Wouldn't 'Crush Hazard' be a great name for a rock band?"

Posted By: Paul - Sun Jul 20, 2008 - Comments (4)
Category: Business, Products

Follies of the Mad Men #4

[From Good Housekeeping for October 1939.]

Here's a great example of Madison Avenue trying to a) make a problem that doesn't exist or is minimal into an overwhelming burden that only their product can alleviate and b) bring the vaunted "miraculous" power of scientists and scientific imagery into the marketing mix.

Did women in 1939--or ever--really ask their friends for a hygienic crotch alert?

Posted By: Paul - Fri Jul 18, 2008 - Comments (5)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Fashion, Hygiene, Science, Gender, Women, 1930s

Obscene Torture

Cruel, sadistic prison guards subjecting inmates to horrible excruciations. It's a sad practice as old as history. But seldom before today has the vile ritual reached such depths as reported in this story.

What exactly is the new nadir of torture? Here's the quote:

"Houghton also said that Botas and Viveiros forced him to watch a Burger King cartoon on his office computer and sing along to a jingle that accompanied the commercial. He said that all three officers laughed and 'were getting a kick out of it … that they could take advantage of me.'”

Oh, the humanity!

Recovering my senses, and getting over the evident confusion on the prisoner's part between "cartoon" and "commercial" (his mind is obviously shattered, after all), I had to ask, "Which Burger King commercial?" Not watching much TV, I'm unsure what's currently on the airwaves that might have registered on the radar of the abusive guards. But they were after all using a computer, presumably to visit YouTube. So I found five possible torture jingles.

Which one do you find most excruciating? Or do you have another candidate?

See them after the jump.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jul 17, 2008 - Comments (3)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Crime, Stupid Criminals, Food, Government, Officials, Prisons, Torture

Follies of the Mad Men #3

[This image comes from Playboy for July 1980.]

Let's suppose that you're a magazine named Playboy that encourages its readers to believe they can have lots of sex if they follow the advice of the magazine. Then you create another magazine in your empire called Games. You decide to advertise the latter in the former. And the theme of your ad is that anyone who reads the new magazine will not want sex anymore, even when a nubile young woman is thrusting herself upon the reader.

This is where your head should explode.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Jul 15, 2008 - Comments (6)
Category: Business, Advertising, Games, Magazines, Sexuality, 1980s

Amazonian Miracle for Sale!

If only you had been reading Popular Mechanics magazine for February 1929! Then you could have purchased the same Purple Ray healing device that Wonder Woman uses! Okay, so it was a "Violet Ray." Same difference, right?

Posted By: Paul - Mon Jul 14, 2008 - Comments (15)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, History, Inventions, Medicine, Science, Technology, Comics, 1920s

Happy Hula-hooping!

Celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the invention of the Hula Hoop!

Posted By: Paul - Sun Jul 13, 2008 - Comments (3)
Category: Anniversary, Business, Products, Customs, Decades, 1950s, Fads, History, Inventions

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Who We Are
Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.

Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.

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