Dress Casual

Five Things – 08.22.16 – Hasta Luigi, Baby

Nintendo 1993 Holiday Demonstration Tutorial

This is the Poochie of corporate training videos.

Nintendo Training Video

Sent to game retailers before the 1993 holiday season, this demo employs a Bill S. Preston/Jeff Spicoli/Zack Morris hybrid being to take employees through the steps of acting properly as a Nintendo representative.  It tries so hard (and fails) to be cool that it doesn’t really accomplish anything else.

Nintendo Dancing

This guy hangs out on the couch for the majority of the tape, in varying levels of splay.

Using a blend of sharp graphics, blaring rock music, grating ‘attitude’ and roleplayed scenarios, employees learn about the differences between the NES, the Super NES, the Game Boy, the advantages Nintendo has over the competition, and how to set up and maintain the various display systems.  There are also some heavily stylized interludes of kids playing video games that make no sense.

Nintendo Rock Out

I really can’t overstate how hard this video tries to be cool.  Its attempts at being playfully subversive results in it not being clear who this is actually targeted at. I can’t imagine a retail employee getting anything out of this video and a consumer would see right through it.  It’s a pretty good example of how corporations viewed kids in the early ’90s, though, so at least it’s worth that. Check it out.

 

Captain Lou Albano Anti Drug PSA

A good message in this 1980s anti-drug PSA, but a strange one once the religious blanket gets draped over it.

 

Manhunt Board Game

A group of players travel around a board gathering clues to eliminate suspects of a crime. Sounds like Clue, right? No – it’s much more complicated.

Manhunt Box

In Manhunt the players are all detectives.  A crime is agreed upon by all players at the beginning of the game and entered into the Clue Scanner.  As players move through the game they are given the chance to insert probes into the Clue Scanner which gives more information to the nature of the crime. This information can be used by the players to whittle down their list of suspects and ultimately determine who done it, winning the game.

Manhunt Board

So, Clue.  But with a Crime Computer, a Clue Scanner, a Probe, a Detective Handbook, and some other stuff to complicate it up.  Still, it’s got a great look and if I had seen this game as a kid I’d have been all over it with all of the devices. Now, a game based on the PS2 game Manhunt? Take my money, please.

First Color Videotaping

In 1958, NBC recorded and rebroadcast the first color videotaping, a speech by President Eisenhower. This video starts in black and white and NBC president Robert Sarnoff flips the switch to color a few minutes in. A pretty great capture of a pretty amazing moment, and the movement in the video looks so snappy for 1958.

 

Rowntree’s Ad

There’s something in 1940s ad for Rowntree’s Fruit Gums that really grabs me.

Rowntree's Ad

 

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Escapes

Five Things – 08.15.16 – We Fly On, Untouched

Escapes

On one sunny afternoon in 1986 Vincent Price, dressed as a mailman, delivers a VHS tape to a kid named Matthew.  The tape, Escapes, is a horror anthology hosted by Vincent Price.  He starts watching it, and so do we. I’m not sure which level of inception we’re at at this point.

Escapes

It’s really just five short horror stories wrapped by Vincent Price and given a strange intro and outro to make it make sense.

Vincent

There are five stories here: Something’s Fishy, Coffee Break, Who’s There, Jonah’s Dream, and Think Twice.  None of them are particularly scary in the execution, and some are downright stupid, but they’re all good snapshots of ’80s cable video production.  Coffee Break is probably my favorite of the batch; it feels like an early Stephen King short story minus the actual scary ending he probably would have written.

Coffee Break

What strikes me about the ending (spoilers) is that characters from each of the stories come together in a “shocking” final scene, proving that this isn’t just some acquisition effort at getting a bunch of unrelated stories and running them side-by-side. As an MST3k fan this video conjures up memories of Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders, which is actually slightly more involved in stitching the standalone stories together than this piece is but actually has a bunch of acquired, unrelated pieces in it – from different decades even. Still, same idea.  It’s worth a watch, there’s something warm and familiar about it all.

 

World War III, Part Two

The thrilling followup to last week’s 1950s scare comic about World War III. This installment features battles in the air, on land, and under the sea… and doesn’t really resolve much. It actually  makes the story much more confusing as to what the makers of the comic’s real agenda was. I’ve also never seen it spelled “Commy” before reading this comic.

WWIII Part Two

 

Nintendo Interactive Retail Store Displays

This 1992 training video about maintaining Nintendo console in-store play units goes further than it needs to in the effort to entertain.  Probably as far as it can. It’s hard to believe that this is this guy’s real voice – it sounds like the voice someone would use to make fun of this guy’s real voice. That’s a compliment, though, I think!

 

19th Century Obesity Ad

There’s very little to appreciate about this fat-shaming newspaper ad from the 19th century, but the aesthetic appeal of the images and the wall of text do catch my eye.

Fat People

 

Bluegrass 45

Current obsession: This 1970s Japanese Bluegrass band.

 

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Nuts for Nintendo

Five Things – 08.08.16 – Luther Destroys The Gond

Total Recall 2070

My love for science fiction can probably be traced back to the time I saw Total Recall when I was eleven years old.  I somehow convinced my parents to buy me a VHS copy from Sam’s Club and  I think I spent the next two or three days watching it over and over.  I liked space stuff before then – I was a huge Star Wars fan – but Total Recall was the first time I remember falling in love with a science fiction idea.  I even bought (convinced my parents to buy) the Piers Anthony novelization, a Piers Anthony novelization of a  film adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story, and read it to tatters.  It actually holds up, if you’re the forgiving type of person.

Total Recall

Anyway, Total Recall is probably my favorite movie of all time.  It’s not the best movie of all time, of course, not by a long shot, but there’s so much there that works. So why nine years later someone thought it would be a good idea to use the franchise to make an episodic series that’s more Blade Runner than Total Recall is completely beyond me.

Total Recall 2070

Total Recall 2070 aired in 1999 on Canadian channel CHCH-TV and on Showtime in the US.  It’s a sequel of sorts to the film, at least in the timeline.  The fact that I had to look that up should tell you how thin the connection is between the film and the series; beyond the presence of the Rekall company (who I couldn’t imagine would still be in business after the Quaid debacle), the concept of memory-implant excursions, and the existence of the planet Mars with people on it, there are really no similarities between the two. Oh, it re-uses some spacecraft shots from the movie. But that’s it.

Mars

It really has more in line with Blade Runner – instead of the mutants in Total Recall there are androids, and some of those androids are up to things that shouldn’t be possible given their programming. Programming supplied by Rekall, because they do apparently do that sort of thing. Detective David Hume’s partner is gunned down by a gang of these rogue androids, and his investigation into the case partners him up with a rookie (who, spoiler alert, is secretly an android created by an unknown-to-the-rest-of-the-world manufacturer) and takes him to Mars. What time the series doesn’t spend exploring the nature of android psychology  and paying marginal lip service to the world that Total Recall built is spent on flashy gun battles, awkwardly placed cursing and similarly awkardly-placed gratuitous sex scenes.

So not so unlike Total Recall on that last part.

It baffles me that they had a series that really fit so well in the Blade Runner universe but chose instead to shoehorn the idea into Total Recall.  The series has a few things going for it – the sets are pretty good, the action’s fine, the effects are decent and the ideas are interesting – but the acting and writing are terrible and the episodes themselves are overlong and dull.  It’s not hard to see why it was cancelled after one season, leaving several plot points unresolved.

Recall Screen 2

Here’s an episode.  It’s hard to recommend spending the time on it.  You’d be better off reading the novelization of the movie. Also, NSFW warning: there’s nudity in this link.

 

World War III Comic, Part One

This 1950s nuclear-scare comic book really dials up the enthusiasm for atomic weapons of all shapes and sizes (atomic bazooka?), frequently at the expense of common sense or complete sentences!

World War III

With such memorable lines as “I’m on fire! Being burned alive! Eeeeeahhh!”, it’s hard to believe this comic didn’t make it into our public school curriculum.  Did the US’ Super Atomic Guided Rocket make it to Moscow? Find out next time!

Nuts for Nintendo

This 1988 segment of “20/20” is pretty charming, not because it characterizes the Nintendo craze as a phenomenon – it was – but in the way it illustrates it as something adults just can’t understand, like the children are possessed and speaking a different language.

Freemans Egg Powder

This poor girl’s left arm needs a little help.

Egg Powder

TRY IT

Vanguard Atari Commercial

This spot for the Atari game “Vanguard” illustrates the camaraderie of a group of high school boys generated from the game. And their inclusion of poor Luther.

 

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Cos

Five Things – 08.01.16 – To Un-Bore You

Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future

It’s a pretty generic title, but the show itself is actually somewhat ambitious.

Captain Power

This 1987 Canadian Sci-Fi show centers around the conveniently named Jonathan Power.  His team, the Soldiers of the Future, are some of the last humans left alive after the Metal War, your basic man vs. cyborg conflict.  Powers’ late dad, Doctor Powers (seriously), developed a system called Overmind to put a stop to the cyborg uprising but Doctor Powers’ friend took control of the system and integrated himself with the system and turned evil and called himself Lord Dread and… yeah.  So now, fifteen years later, the world is a mess and Lord Dread and his mechs are seeking out the last remnants of humanity in order to wipe it out.  The Soldiers of the Future aim to stop that, with a variety of power suits and weapons that are as distinct as the SKUs that make up their shelf space.

Attack

It’s a toy show, to be sure, but the toys were ambitious as well.  Several of them interacted with the episodes, encouraging kids to play while watching the show and sometimes even shoot the bad guys on the screen themselves.  As you can imagine, this combined with the fact that it was live action didn’t go over too well with parents.  Even without that component, it’s a pretty violent show for Saturday Morning.

The show tried to strike a balance between kiddy action sequences and adult-themed storylines.  The choice to go with live action and the ambitious effects for a late-’80s television show demonstrate that they’re trying to deliver on something more than just another toy show, but ultimately it comes across as a pretty bad toy show.  In a lot of ways it feels reverse-engineered from the toy line that Mattel probably already had in mind, but there is a somewhat original story there.  It’s a shame that the rest of the show doesn’t hold it up.

Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future was cancelled after one season.  It’s tough to make a solid call one way or the other on this show – there’s a nugget of a good idea in there, but so much gets in the way of it actually being a good show.  Given a choice between this and, say, Power Rangers, though, I’d probably go with Captain Power.  Check out an episode.

 

 

Texas Instruments Sales Video

It’s Cos, back when you would still take his advice on purchases! Here’s Bill Cosby convincing Texas Instruments salesmen to buy more products from Texas Instruments in order to have more stock to sell their customers.  These appear to be the wraparounds to a longer video. We’re probably lucky that we were spared the rest.

He kind of does an impersonation of himself there toward the end.

 

Bar Guide

The cover to this 1950s Bar Guide is pretty fantastic.

Bar Guide

 

Canadian Anti-Drug PSA

The last Canadian Anti Drug PSA was over-the-top ’90s but this one is just..strange.  Did they drug test the people who made these things?

 

The Prologue and the Promise

This mural by Robert T. McCall never fails to inspire.  It was part of the EPCOT ride Horizons, one of the more influential rides/experiences of my childhood.

Prologue and the Promise

 

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Filmation

Five Things – 07.25.16 – World’s Tiniest Engineers

Ghostbusters

No, not that one.

In 1975 Filmation had a live-action series about a couple of guys and a gorilla who hunted ghosts.  It was about as different from the 1984 movie that would come as you could imagine; it was aimed directly at children and focused on slapstick rather than actual paranormal enthusiasm for its comedic value.  It was pretty hokey, and it died on the vine after only fifteen episodes.

Obviously, after the mega-success of the 1984 film, there was interest in making a television series.  After an unsuccessful attempt to work with Columbia Pictures to produce a cartoon that tied in with the movie, Filmation chose instead to resurrect the original series in animated form.  Because Filmation owned the rights to the title, they were able to come to the table with a cartoon simply titled Ghostbusters – tricking second graders all over the country into watching their show.  Myself included.  Columbia Pictures, whose cartoon actually did relate to the film, had the ante-upped title The Real Ghostbusters.  Columbia Pictures had the superior series, but Filmation’s effort wasn’t without its charm.

Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters featured the sons of the 1975 series’ protagonists, Jake Kong Jr. and Eddie Spencer Jr.  Tracy the gorilla was the bridge between the two generations, working with both teams.  Rounding out the team are Belfrey, a pink talking bat, and Skellevision, a skeleton television.  While there were gadgets involved in detecting and catching ghosts, the show on the whole was consciously low-tech but also high concept; the characters rode around in an old haunted jalopy named Ghost Buggy that could also fly.  This was a pretty big point of distinction between this series and The Real Ghostbusters.

Skull Phone Ghost Buggy

Sixty-five episodes were produced for daytime syndication, and a toy line followed.  It fared better than you’d think it would but it was really no match for our Ghostbusters – either on screen or in the marketplace.  Still, there’s something fun about it – it celebrates the supernatural in a sweet, goofy way that you saw less and less of in the ’80s, and still less today.  Plus, it’s gorgeous. Check it out.

 

How You Can Help Win The War

Here’s an interesting wartime pamphlet about things civilians and laborers can do to help win the war.  It’s interesting to see things like “drive carefully” and “don’t get hurt” included with the more obvious “don’t blab what you know”.

How You Can Help Win The War

 

1991 Canadian Anti-Drug PSA

This 1991 Canadian anti-drug PSA plays like a Tim and Eric sketch.  To say it didn’t age well is an understatement – would this have resonated with kids even back in 1991 when it was made?

That “COOL” gets me every time.

 

Frustration 1973 Box Art

I love the painting of the family on this 1973 Frustration (known as “Trouble” here in the U.S.) box art.  Particularly because it looks like that kid is in some serious pain.

Frustration

 

Exciting Ant Farm

From the “Always Wanted, Never Had” files…

Exciting Ant Farm

 

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Defense

Five Things – 7.11.16 – Real Sick, Real Quick

Man From The 25th Century

This 1968 Irwin Allen production never got off the ground, and it’s kind of a shame.

25th Century

Tomo was abducted from his 1951 Earth life and given combat and telekinesis training on a distant planet 500 years in the future by alien beings, his ultimate mission being to return to 1951 and destroy an Earth defense project named Project Delphi.  Weird, right? He’s given a final review by the alien board and his skills are found wanting, but they’re out of time.  They need to send him 500 years back in time right now. I can only assume that’s due to some limitation of time travel that my 21st century brain can’t comprehend.

Council

Saucer

Tomo returns to 20th century Earth as Robert Prentice, a man on his way to start working at Project Delphi.  That was easy! On the way there, the Project takes control of his car and drives him the rest of the way.

25th Century

He’s given a tour of the facilities and quickly tries to blow it all up. He’s captured and exposed as a traveler from the future.  The aliens who sent him decide that he’s too knowledgeable to let live, so they send a spacecraft to destroy him… and a bunch of innocent people. Tomo/Prentice is shocked that he was working for the wrong team and works with the 20th century Earthlings to repel the attack.

Delphi Defense 2

They successfully beat the aliens back, for now.  We never find out what happened after that, because the pilot never made it to series.  Like I said, kind of a shame – there was something there.  It’s rough and there are some gaps of logic but it’s still a lot of fun. Check it out.

 

Don’t Put It In Your Mouth

This 1993 Canadian PSA answers the ‘why’ of that age old command not to put just anything in your mouth – in nightmarish fashion.  And then tacks on a message about not taking anything from strangers. Or putting an item taken from strangers into your mouth.

 

Wartime Kraft Cheese Ad

I don’t know what bugs me specifically about this wartime ad for Kraft cheeses. Maybe because I’m not sure I associate Philadelphia Cream Cheese part of a wartime-thrift diet? I still love the design and the audacity of the effort, though.

Kraft Wartime

 

World’s Finest Victory Garden

Now THIS is a wartime effort I can get behind!

Victory Garden Worlds Finest

 

Merlin Commercial

This 1980s commercial for Parker Brothers’ Merlin electronic game doesn’t do much to sell me on it.  I remember this thing being confounding and confusing even back then when we were harder up for entertainment. I wonder if anyone would have the patience for it now.

 

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Sizzler

Five Things – 07.04.16 – You’re Weird Too, Then

Dollar a Second

This 1981 reboot of a 1950s game show seems centered around insulting and humiliating people while occasionally throwing them a few dollars, and also about confusing the rest of us.

Dollar A Second

Bob Eubanks conducts this train wreck in which contestants earn the titular Dollar A Second for as long as they’re on stage.  A counter overhead keeps track of how much they’ve earned.  The contestants are dressed ridiculously (by the show) from the get-go, putting them at an instant disadvantage.

DAS Contestant

They’re then given a string of “A or B” questions and tasks to perform in either case instead of just verbally answering.  Once a contestant gets an answer wrong they’re taken to the next level of humiliation, where they Pay the Penalty.

Penalty 2

Here they’re given a Russian Roulette sort of choice to make, where all but one choice could put them back into the game and the fourth embarrasingly knocks them out. There’s not really a final round – they count on the players quitting and taking their winnings or continuing and getting knocked out.  Pretty half baked.  The pilot didn’t get picked up, so we’ll never know if it would have evolved past a crude trivia show that got cheap, uncomfortable laughs from captive audience members.

Here’s an episode. Like I said, train wreck.  Hard to watch, hard not to watch.

 

My Weekly Reader

Dreams of Space has a couple of roundup posts for a weekly children’s publication called My Weekly Reader.  These editions predictably focus on our 1950s efforts to conquer space and because of this they’re right of my alley.  Hit the link for all of them, here are some of my favorites.

1960nov7weeklyreader

1965weeklyreader

1958nov10weeklyreader

 

The 1976 Travis 4th of July Parade

This Super 8 footage of Travis, RI’s Bicentennial Parade really gets me.

 

1991 Sizzler Promotional Video

This 4+ minute image piece for the Sizzler is the most dramatic, most nineties, most beautifully perfect image piece for a family-and-budget-friendly restaurant I’ve ever seen.  They don’t make image pieces for family-and-budget-friendly restaurants like this anymore!

 

Sony Super Walkman

It’s slightly smaller!

 

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Remote

Five Things – 06.27.16 – All Seven Functions

The Diamond Head Game

Despite being shot on location in beautiful 1975 Hawaii, this very short lived game show didn’t accomplish much beyond giving host Bob Eubanks a chance to get a tan.

Diamond Head Game

The Diamond Head Game featured four mini-rounds consisting of basic trivia with contestants pulled from what can only be referred to in this post-Arsenio era as a Dog Pound. These contestants are also the entire audience, presumably given the restrictions of the location, and they’re really happy to be there.

Dog Pound

Once all four first rounds are done, the climb up the mountain begins.  The four winners of the first round are pitted against each other to remember a list of nouns and recall them one after another.  This is as mind-numbing to watch as it sounds.

Final Four

Once a winner emerges from the mountain climb the final round begins: the money volcano.  Or, a wind chamber with flying tickets.

Volcano

The contestant is given one last chance to trade their haul for a secret prize and, if they decline, are given each ticket they collected one at a time. The tickets have dollar values or prizes on them, but if a contestant pulls a one dollar bill they lose it all.  They’re given the chance to bow out and keep their winnings after each ticket is revealed.

Trade

Here’s the show – it’s actually really worth watching for the novelty of a mid-70’s game show shot outdoors in a beautiful location but not for much past that.  For every element in the game there’s a show that did it better.

Also, the theme song was another Alan Thicke joint, too. That guy is made of theme songs.

 

RCA Remote Control

This 1960s introduction film for the remote control is pretty charming. While it’s definitely impressive and I can appreciate the waves this thing made at the time, I imagine somebody in the future will look at a how-to video for a Harmony remote or Homekit integration with the same smug appreciation.

 

Kite PSA

In which a mime performs a terrifying death before two children to illustrate the dangers of retrieving kites from power lines.  Canadian film and television was painted with a really special brush back in the ’80s.

How about that appearance?

Mime

 

Color Computer 3

Love this commercial for the Tandy Color Computer 3.

And an accompanying print ad.

Color Computer 3

Just plug it into your TV!

 

Florida Oranges

Keep a pitcher cold and handy!

Florida Oranges

 

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Whew Intro

Five Things – 06.20.13 – A Neon Sign Designer

Whew!

This short lived Game Show featured an amazing set, a strange format, and good old Rod Roddy.

Whew!

Whew! is basically a string of lightning rounds with a little twist – in the “normal” part of the game one contestant tries to get through the board in a set amount of time while the other places ‘blocks’, little land mines that take away five seconds each time they’re uncovered.  If the blocks are uncovered, the defending contestant gets the money.

Blocks

The first contestant to win two rounds gets to go to the final round, which is basically the same thing but with ten ‘villains’ delivering the questions and no blocks. If they can make it through each villain they get the grand prize, $25,000.

25000

The set is pretty fantastic, but I have a hard time putting my finger on specifics.  It alternates between a grandiose production and something in somebody’s basement, but you can tell someone had their eye on design in all components – even in the live, composited stuff.

Whew Set Lightning Final Round

Whew! lasted just over a year before being cancelled – April 1979 to May 1980.  A pretty wacky show, and it moves really fast.  Here’s an episode.

 

Home Alone (NES)

Of course there was a Nintendo game for Home Alone; there was an everything else for Home Alone, so why not  a game for the NES?

Home Alone Cover

Different versions of the game were made, each platform having its own format and objectives.  In the NES version (developed by Bethesda, current developers of the Elder Scrolls and recent Fallout series!) the premise is pretty simple: evade Harry and Marv for 20 minutes until the police show up. Kevin picks up different traps and places them around the house to slow the Wet Bandits down.  It’s not as easy as it looks. Get caught and it’s game over.

Oh No

Here’s a longplay.

 

Pepper’s Ghost

I wish I knew more about this fantastic 19th Century poster.  What I do know is there’s a wrong way to put a bunch of different fonts together, and then there’s this way.  I can’t stop looking at it. It’s beautiful.

Pepper's Ghost

 

What is Pippin?

A somewhat dry intro to Apple’s ill-fated video game console, the Pippin.  Would you have paid $700 for this in 1995?

 

J’attendrai

Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelli never fail to scratch the itch.

 

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Motorway

Five Things – 6.13.16 – Now That We Know What Hi-Fi Means

Finders Keepers

What if Highlights magazine and Legends of the Hidden Temple had a baby and that baby married Supermarket Sweep? It would be an outrage, that’s what if.  Babies can’t get married!

Finders Keepers

Nickelodeon had lightning in a bottle in the ’80s with their game shows – Double Dare, G.U.T.S., and the aforementioned Legends of the Hidden Temple were all really original ideas that celebrated being a kid.  Finder’s Keepers was…kind of a mess.

FK Contestants

The show pitted two pairs of kids against each other in two rounds of hidden picture to earn the right to ransack rooms of a house in order to find a specific object.  The objects were ridiculously hard to find, sometimes even for the host, and if one team failed the other team got points.  This is what usually happened.

Challenge 1

Hidden Ball

The team that has the most points after two rounds, either by finding hidden pictures or by not-not-finding the hidden objects, gets to go to the final round. Here they go across the whole house with the added task of figuring out what object they need to find based on some really poorly crafted riddles.

Finale

It’s a pretty good idea for a game show, but there are so many points where either a lack of skill or a lack of care on the showrunner’s part kept it from being a good game show.  Still, I can’t imagine the kid audience in the ’80s being discerning enough to pick the show apart on these things.  I sure wasn’t.

Here’s an episode from 1988.  Plus some great Nick bumpers.  In pretty good quality, too!

 

Newton Guided Tour

When you bought the Apple Newton, one of the first PDAs back in 1994, this video was included to show you how to use it.  It’s a little dry and could be about ten minutes shorter, but there’s a lot to like about the cheesiness of it all.  The music, the sedated narration, the fashion, and the very ’90s montages of people using this bulky obscenity in the real world contribute to make this a great snapshot of the realities and the aspirations 1994 technology. We wanted to be 2010 so badly!

 

Thorazine Ad

I don’t know if this 1958 print ad for Thorazine is supposed to make me as antsy as it does.  Seems kind of counter to the message.

thoraz5

 

British Motorway Public Information Film

This short PSA from the ’80s about how to use the motorway is probably the prettiest thing I’ve seen this week.

 

The Teppaz Presence

Runner up.  This vintage ad for the Teppaz Presence Player is pretty gorgeous, too.

Tepper Presence

 

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