Tag Archives: ephemera

Five Things – 5.22.17 – Stories For Boys

 

It’s About Time (1966)

What if you had a silly TV show set in a remote jungle location and you had an idea for a second, unrelated-yet-just-as-silly TV show set in a remote jungle location and you just re-used props and sets from the first silly TV show for the second silly TV show and crossed your fingers that nobody would notice? That’s pretty much Sherwood Schwartz’s approach to It’s About Time, the second silly TV show to Gilligan’s Island‘s first silly TV show.

He actually probably didn’t cross his fingers that nobody would notice. He probably just didn’t care.

It’s About Time follows the adventures of two astronauts, Mac McKenzie and Hector Canfield, who get sent back in time to caveman days and end up living with caveman family Gronk and Shad, . Gronk is played by Joe E. Ross. essentially a caveman version of his Gunther Toody character from Car 54 Where Are You? Shad is played by the lovely Imogene Coca.

The cavemen speak in broken-but-very-very-passable modern English.  The rest of the tribe are suspicious of the astronauts, but are eloquently suspicious.  The plot lines revolve around either the astronauts bringing modern civilization to the cavemen, or trying to adjust to/reconcile their worldview with the cavemen’s.

Now here’s the interesting part – the show was retooled 2/3 of the way through the season to address the sagging ratings.  They basically flip the premise, where the astronauts find a way to return to the present and bring the cavemen with them. The episodes then revolve around the cavemen’s acclimation to 20th Century life. That’s a courtesy the Gilligan gang didn’t get until their TV movie finale!

It didn’t help. It’s About Time was cancelled after the first season. While it’s definitely not up to par with Schwartz’s stronger efforts like Gilligan’s Island or The Brady Bunch, there’s still something special here. There’s just a lot of other stuff weighing it down.  Here’s a few episodes.

 

 

1980 Coleco Catalog

There is so much to love about this 1980 Coleco Games and Toys catalog. So much to love! This Holly Hobbie oven looks like something out of a haunted house. And how about that plaid stroller?

 

1987 Train Ride to Coney Island

This is a pretty great snapshot of New York City in the late 1980s.  Those kids need to jump into a pool of Purell after laying around on the seats of that train, though .

 

Goonies Famicom Commercials

The Goonies, as a movie, couldn’t be more American in how the kids act, what motivates them, and the nature of their reward. The beautiful insanity of the Goonies videogames, however, we’re just not capable of that.  Kudos to Konami for taking a solid foundation and launching it into the stars.  These ads for both Goonies games really hammer that insanity home.  I’ll also take this opportunity to repeat the fact that Goonies II is one of the greatest video games of all time.

 

U2’s First TV Appearance

This 1980 TV appearance is a completely different band.

 

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Five Things – 5.8.17 – Some People Call This A War

The Front Line

This 1960s training film on the merits of good checkout procedure places an awful lot of responsibility for the store’s performance on what happens in the checkout lane.  Indeed, they are “The Front Line” in the grocery war.  Seriously, they just casually call it a war.

I’m not going to spend time romanticizing the actual advice given in this film; it boils down to ‘make the right amount of change’, ‘don’t get tricked by crooks’, and ‘sell stuff at the right price.” The way they give the advice, though, is great: the hair and fashion are top-notch for the era, and the large green “test room” has an awesome visual aesthetic.

The real star of the film, though, is the reality of the 1960s grocery store and the golden crossroad of an almost clinically clean store design filled with beautifully packaged processed foods.

It’s worth “checking out”.  Get it? Sorry. Here it is.

 

Cadbury’s Smash Commercial

Speaking of war, this 1970s spot for Cadbury’s mashed potatoes is nothing less than a declaration of it from those smug Martians.

 

Cosmography & Astrology

This beautifully confounding print from 1686 demonstrates the various applications of Cosmography and Astrology.

King Vitaman Commercial

I don’t know who these people thought they were fooling. This is a cereal made of styrofoam that nobody would enjoy.

 

You Are Too Fine

Heineken’s got the right hook, here.

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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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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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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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Five Things – 05.09.16 – I’m Talkin’ Quarter Pounder Beef On The Hot Hot Side

Don’t Look Now

Last week we saw a failed attempt at a prime-time spinoff of You Can’t Do That On Television called Whatever Turns You On.  Well, here’s a failed attempt at a carbon copy of You Can’t Do That On Television, 1983’s Don’t Look Now, produced for PBS station WGBH by the YCDTOT creators.

Dont Look Now Dylan

Don’t Look Now copied and pasted the sketch format from YCDTOT, making slight adjustments so that it could qualify as a different thing.  Canada had Barth, the US had a sleepaway camp cook who specialized in gross-out food.  Canada had a recurring firing squad gag, the US had a recurring kid-on-the-pirate-plank gag.  Instead of green slime, there was “yellow yuck”.

Yellow Yuck

Don’t Look Now added a few things to differentiate it from it’s Canadian sister, though.  The show was performed live, which allowed them to take phone calls from viewers.  If the viewers could answer questions posed by the show, they’d win a T-shirt.

Call In

Several “man on the street” segments featured real kids telling jokes to the camera.

Man on the Street Man on the Street 2

The crude humor and subversive “grown ups are awful” attitude are the focal point of both shows, and predictably so; it’s a very ’80s children’s television theme, and also grown ups are actually awful.  Here’s the first episode.

The kids don’t have the chops that the Canadian kids have, none of the adults are anywhere near the level of Les Lye, and the potty humor feels even more forced than usual, but there’s still a level of charm here.  It’s a bold move for a PBS station to commission a program that betrays the established trust from parents about the content of kids’ programming on public television, and that’s probably why it backfired.  Don’t Look Now premiered on October 2, 1983 and the finale ran 28 days later on October 30. So it goes.

Also, that segment about what happens to your poop after flush it is legit fascinating.

 

Pre-War Travel Posters

There’s a great roundup of British pre-war travel posters over at Flashbak. Here are some of my favorites – hit the link for the rest.

‘To Hampshire and the New Forest Quickly by the New “Bournemouth Limited”’. Poster produced for Southern Railway (SR) promoting train services to Hampshire and the New Forest. The poster shows a panoramic view of the countryside with a quote by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822). Artwork by Leonard Richmond, who studied at the Taunton School of Art and Chelsea Polytechnic and exhibited widely both in London and abroad. He painted landscapes and figures and designed posters for the Great Western Railway (GWR) and Southern Railway (SR). Dimensions: 1016 mm x 1270 mm.

Poster produced for the London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS). Artwork by Norman Wilkinson. A famous marine painter, Wilkinson made a major contribution to the art of camouflage. He designed posters for the London & North Western Railway, LMS and Southern Railway, and organised the Royal Academy series of posters for the LMS in 1924. He also worked for the Illustrated London News and Illustrated Mail. "

British Tourist and Holidays Board poster. Artwork by Norman Wilkinson.

 

Frogger/Empire Strikes Back Commercial

This Parker Brothers commercial for its Frogger and Empire Strikes Back Atari games doesn’t quite have the synergistic thread that Data East had with their Robocop/Bad Dudes spot. The custom animation for Frogger is great, though.

 

Compuserve Ad

This seems like your average early-internet ‘hey you can manage your whole life with this service’ ad until you notice that it’s from 1983. That’s some future-stuff.

CompuServe

 

Mc D.L.T.

Jason Alexander foreshadows his Pretty Woman role in this 1985 spot for the Mc D.L.T. burger.

They used that much styrofoam for EVERY hamburger. That’s bonkers.

 

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Five Things – 04.25.16 – I’ll Be Bigger Than Ollie North

1987 NBC Saturday Morning Preview

ALF hosts this Friday Night preview of NBC Saturday Morning lineup featuring, well, ALF. The premises for these specials are always so ridiculous, and this one’s no different:

ALf Loves A Mystery

The special begins in the Tanner family garage, where ALF is on the phone with his agent regarding his new prequel cartoon series. ALF and his buddy Brian decide to imagine a mystery story specifically featuring characters from the shows in the NBC Saturday Morning lineup, which is natural and makes sense.

ALF and Brian

The special then turns into a Film Noir homage, which kids are totally into, with ALF providing the narration and Brian starring as the detective. Brian’s invited to the Countess (Jackee’s) mansion, where random stars from NBC Prime Time programs like Our House, Rags To Riches, The Golden Girls, and others are gathered and given the challenge to find the treasure hidden within the house.

Shannen Jackee Betty

The kid faction of the party teams up to solve the mystery, awkardly led from clue to clue by clips and voiceovers from the Saturday Morning shows.

Clue Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Smurfs, the Gummie Bears, Archie, and that awful animated version of Fraggle Rock help the gang along.

Fraggle

The adults at the party, predictably, are all bad guys.  They’re also dumb.  They follow the children around as the kids solve the mysteries, waiting for their chance to steal the treasure once it’s found. Shannen Doherty masquerades as “kid-cool” to try and trick them!

Shannen Kids

The joke’s on all of them, kid and adult alike, when Jackee tries to take it all for herself at the end.

Ending

I won’t tell you how they get out of that particular pickle, but ALF and Shannen Doherty DO go on a date after all is said and done.

This special is so bad and hamfisted, but in a really good way.  Even Shannen Doherty’s redeemed in it.  I can’t figure out how the effort spent on this was justified, but I’m glad it was.  Here’s the whole thing. Also included are some VERY ’80s Cherry 7-Up, Milky Way, Snickers, Wendy’s, Diet Coke, KFC, and Crave Cat Food commercials.

Also I forgot about Chicken Littles – that 39 cent price point is nice.

 

Discover Atari

This early 1980s “Prism” campaign for Atari shows the breadth of the company’s offerings past just video games, but still mostly focuses on the video games.  They know which side of the bread gets the butter.  Still, a good looking campaign with some great motion graphics and some EPCOT-level synth.

That’s Jack Palance doing the voiceover. You hear it now, don’t you?

This one interestingly focuses on the whole portfolio of Atari’s offerings – minimizing the games as much as they probably can.  Makes Atari look like a much different company than it was – the company they probably wanted to be.

 

Safe As Houses

This charming 1983 UK Public Information Film uses a mixture of animation and live action to teach kids about electrical safety. Voiced by Judi Dench and Michael Wiliams, it’s kind of like a G-rated “Shake Hands With Danger”.

 

Atom Bomb Blasts

This 1950s-era postcard from Benny Binion’s Horseshoe Club boasts the spectacular view of atomic weapons testing that can be had nearby. Amazing.

Benny Binion

 

Burpee Cover

Potatoes have never been so beautiful. A cover from an 18th century seed catalog.

Burpee Cover

 

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Five Things – 04.04.16 – That Men May Fight

You Dont Know Jack

In the summer of 2001 ABC tried to create a televised version of the crazy successful trivia video game show You Don’t Know Jack.   It was not successful, but it did end up being kind of crazy.

YDKJ Title

The show was pretty loyal to the game’s format. Instead of the game’s regular host Cookie Masterson (who still performed as the show’s announcer), Paul Reubens played Troy Stevens – and did a really great job at it.

Troy

The guests selected were pretty colorful people, some with pretty colorful talents.

Contestant

The “standard” trivia questions were typically worded or executed in a unique way, true to the video game’s style.  There were also mini-games throughout the show, just like in the game, that offered bonus money.

YDKJ Question

The “Dis or Dat” minigame picked one player and gave them two categories. Troy would then run through several items that the player had to place in the correct category.

Dis or Dat

Dis or Dat 2

Narrative arcs sometimes carried through the shows as well, centered around Troy.  The final round is the same as in the video game, the “Jack Attack” lightning round that pits the top two contestants against each other . Reubens really puts on his Pee-Wee hat for this round.

Jack Attack 2 Jack Attack

All in all, a fun show – I guess America wasn’t ready for game shows that didn’t involve asking if you wanted to be a millionaire or what’s in a briefcase.  You Don’t Know Jack ran for six episodes and was cancelled.

Here’s an episode.

 

Wall Street

Wall Street Title

This bizarre 1982 arcade game has two types of rounds. In one, you are rescue workers saving stock brokers who have jumped out of windows in attempts to commit suicide.

Wall Street 1

In the other, you are presumably a banker or stock broker running through the streets of a foreign city destroying tanks that are pursuing you and collecting large sums of money.

Wall Street 2

Here’s some gameplay.  I don’t understand. I mean, I understand the gameplay, but not the container that the gameplay was placed in.

 

YWCA Posters

In 1918, the YWCA provided personnel to assist the Armed Forces in World War I.  Here are some gorgeous posters from designed to raise money for the effort.

Men May Fight Help Our Boys Care for Her Building For Health Back Our Girls

 

Clean It

This mid-’80s McDonald’s training video features a Michael Jackson ripoff encouraging employees to clean the restaurant.  I use the term “training video” loosely, as there’s not much how-to here other than “clean it”!

 

Castlevania Soundtrack

The score for the original Castlevania on the Nintendo Entertainment System is real funky! Who knew, or remembered?

 

 

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Five Things – 03.28.16 – It’s That Party Line Piggy

Adventure in Telezonia

This 1950 film teaches kids how to use the phone correctly, politely, and efficiently. And if in the process of learning a kid picks up some nightmare fuel along the way, so what?

Telezonia

The film is produced by and features the Bil Baird marionette puppets as the residents of Telezonia, but I’m getting ahead of myself. We’re immediately introduced to the main character, for lack of a better word, named Handy.

Handy

Handy travels the phone lines of the world listening in on people’s conversations. He knows when you’re sick and on the phone with the doctor, he knows what you’re ordering for dinner, and he knows when you’ve lost your dog like Bobby has.

Listening In Bobby

Handy tells Bobby he can help him find his dog and instead of putting up flyers or going outside he whisks him away to the land of Telezonia to learn about phone etiquette with his friends.

Telezonia 1

Telezonia’s what you would expect a society built around and beholden to the telephone to look like.  The residents all have specific roles in telephone usage. For instance, this guy tells you to wait for a dial tone. Remember dial tones?

Dial Tone

This girl is the party line expert.

Calling the Party Line

And this guy’s job in this society is to hog the party line and make everyone hate him.

Hog

I’m not going to drag out the ending; they find the dog and it’s all thanks to the telephone skills Bobby learned in Telezonia.  Here’s the film – I’m not sure what’s scarier – the puppets themselves or the antiquated way telephone operation used to be!

 

 

Ark II Animated

Space:1970’s got a great set of animatics for a never-realized animated version of the post-apocalyptic kid’s show, Ark II.  Check out the link for the rest.

Ark Animated

 

Victory Garden Poster

A gorgeous, gorgeous poster compelling Americans to grow victory gardens to feed themselves during World War II. I love everything about victory gardens, besides the conditions that necessitated them.

Victory Garden

 

Primley’s Chewing Gum Ad

And a beautiful ad from the 19th century for Primley’s Chewing Gum!

Primleys

 

The Abominable Dr. Phibes

Check out this amazing poster for The Abominable Dr. Phibes!

Phibes Poster

And a newspaper ad which is just as good in its own way!

Dr Phibes Newspaper

And this amazing trailer!

 

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Five Things – 02.29.16 – I Swear By My Tattoo

Saturday Morning Sneak Peek 

Well, they called it what it was. No razzle, no dazzle, no confusion. Also, this was apparently before drop-shadow was invented.

Saturday Morning Sneak Peek

Avery Schreiber and Jack Burns host this 1973 ABC special, under the premise that the comedy duo is setting up a surprise party for Schreiber’s nephew.  Burns pulls some strings to invite who he considers the Hollywood A-list: Bugs Bunny, Yogi Bear, Batman, Superman, and Lassie.

Yogi Avery

Oh, and Rick Springfield.

Yogi Rick

Oh, and Superman is played by Chuck Woolery.

Superman

As they wait for the party to begin, each attendee shows off a reel of their Saturday Morning show: Lassie Rescue Rangers, Superfriends, Yogi’s Ark, and Mission: Magic, which looks absolutely bananas.  Springfield predictably introduces his cartoon musically.

Springfield Dance

Can’t find the full episode of this anywhere, so I don’t know how the party goes but thanks to Avery Schreiber’s son we have about 15 minutes of ’70s-era-TV-magic.  And it is magical.

 

The Power of He-Man

This 1983 home video game features some fantastic box art, a pack-in comic, some great advertising and….some mediocre graphics and gameplay.  I’m a little upset that I wasn’t aware of this game in 1983, when I was in the middle of my He-Man Mania.  He-Mania? Nevermind.

The_Power_of_He-Man He Man Ad

Pretty ads, right? Here’s our hero in the game:

Masters Title 1

Oh wait, here he is as He-Man:

Masters Title 2

The first portion of the game is a side-scroller in He-Man’s speeder.
Masters Gameplay 1

The second portion is a gorgeous ripoff of Yars’ Revenge set in Castle Greyskull.

Masters Gameplay 2

Here’s a playthrough:

 

Radiological Defense

To me, this film is more chiliing than The 8th Day from last week. It’s a 1961 public informational film that goes to lengths to both educate its viewer on the nature of fallout and radiation itself as well as provide information on what to do in the event of a nuclear attack.  This one has a kinder hand than most films of this type – there’s not a lot of fear here, just a compassionate sort of education. And some great illustration.

Fallout Map Fallout Atom

 

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea Trailer

There’s everything to love about this trailer. I could only imagine how stunning this would have been in 1954.

 

How to Dance Manual

Beautiful, beautiful design on this 19th century dance manual cover.

How to Dance

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