Friday, May 30, 2008

Supersale Superfreak

The cover of an old flyer from Hodson's Bay Co., an outdoors store in West Lafayette, IN. My god, what's wrong with this guy's head?!

Take a closer look for the full effect.

This is what comes from biking without a helmet.

Too Much Excitement Can Strain the Heart

This has to be one of the most frightening faces I've ever seen on a product. What exactly excites him about the cake?

For a more disturbing insight into Grandpa Sol, read what's on the side panel:
"He has been very creative in exploring new uses for our cake mix." The mind reels....

Primo Creamo

Mmmmmmm. Doesn't this sound like something you'd just love to put in your mouth? And what's more, it's a 1 1/2 pounder!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Make Sure Your Ball Is Clean

Here's a blast from the Gallery's early past, something I found when I went to a Putt Putt course in the late 1990s. Yes, you read right: at one time the official name of Putt Putt's mascot was "Buster Ball."

But wait, there's more! Here he is enjoying the company of young children. I'll leave it to you to fill in your own commentary.

In My Beginning Is My End

I can't go on. I'll go on.

Much to thanks to my friend, Janine Chiappa McKenna, for photographing these unambiguous signs she found this morning on the 1500 block of K Street in Washington, D.C.

Do YOU Know What This Refers To?

What kind of notes might Grandpa take? The possibilities are staggering.

(I don't know what this is or where it came from, but I found it at a campus computer and thought I'd share it with you.)

Hot Steamin' Mama

Here's a gem from the original Gallery of the Absurd, one of the first ads that I put online. This little bit of tummy-wrenching goodness is brought to you by by the good folks at Dinty Moore.

Appetizing? Make you want more? Go ahead, take another look. Take a good long look:


Bad Touch

This tag came on a touch lamp I bought. The message intrigues me. It's filled with possibilities. I must decode it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Raul Vega's Chips

This was on the back of a bag of chips I got in Michigan.

The artist's rendering really moves me, so I thought I'd share it with you.

Feeling Terry

This was on a dish rag I bought. What would this label be without the emphasis? Think about it, won't you.

Mei Dick

When in New York's Chinatown, please visit Mei Dick.

Bright Light Just Right for Fun

Jay Jaffe, a loyal fan of the Gallery of the Absurd, sent this to me back in the early days of the site. A nice beer-related product manufactured by a company called "Educator."

As if that isn't enough, here's the enchanting "Educator" logo.

Bob Hope Says So

Several years ago, before Bob Hope died, I found this label on an otherwise nondescript bottle of barbecue sauce. I guess his recommendation makes everything okay.

Born to Be Mild

I found this recently in an Avon catalog. Nothing says "road rebel" like jammies.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Arts and Kraft

Laughing uncontrollably over an open bottle of Caesar salad dressing? Is there something I'm not seeing here?

Something Old, Something New

Here's something from the original Gallery of the Absurd, one of my favorites, Happy Boy Margarine:

I don't know, but there's something about the expression on this kid's face that's a little disturbing. Take a closer look:

What exactly might he be doing with the margarine?

Here's a more recent advertisement I've come across:

I guess after the BBQ, the other stuff just isn't worth mentioning.

Greetings from the dead!

After seven years of dormancy the Gallery of the Absurd is back on the Web!

Yep, believe it or not, the first and original Gallery of the Absurd is back in action. I began the Gallery back in February 1996 while I was in graduate school. It started as somewhat of a joke and as a retreat from doctoral coursework. As a graduate teaching assistant at Purdue University, I used to tape weird and off-beat (depending on how you looked at them) advertisements, labels, and pictures of signs up in the office I shared with my friend, Brian Donahue. It was something to lighten the mood for when students would come by to talk with me about their writing. They would be nervous in having to come see their class instructor, would look up on my wall and see strange labels and advertisements, usually laugh, and then feel more at ease when talking with me. So when I first started to create my own Web pages back in the mid-1990s, these images were some of the first that I scanned and put online.

I created a site called "The Gallery of the Absurd," and it featured scans of contemporary labels, advertisements, and pictures of signs that I had been accumulating over the years while a teaching assistant. I refrained from putting up any retro images from decades past, since given our irony-tinged postmodern sensibilities, those were easy targets. I was much more interested in recent advertisements, labels, and signs that weren't strange because of their expiration dates and that never intended to be funny in the first place (I think). Word soon got out about my Gallery, I started to get a lot of hits and just as many hyperlinks, and pretty soon people began sending me images of signs and advertisements that they thought were strange. Before I knew it, the Gallery was growing exponentially and attracting attention from all over the webosphere, earning me innumerable "Best of the Web" kind of awards (which were really a dime a dozen, but attention-getting, nonetheless). However, in 1997 the Gallery of the Absurd won the prestigious Webby Award--and during the very first year of the Webby Award's existence, no less--in the "Weird" category, both the Critic's Choice and the Voter's Voice awards...I even beat out The Onion! Soon after that, and because of all the Web traffic I was generating, I took the Gallery off my Purdue server space and began to "take things public" (which meant I was able to get a couple of sponsors whose non-intrusive advertisements provided a few meager bucks that more or less funded things). In addition to the many "regular" images I featured on the site, there were several specialty pages that got a lot of attention, such as the Scary Clowns page, the I Hate McDonalds page, the Jenny McCarthy, Enough Is Enough page, and especially the Annoying J. Crew Model of the Week page.

The Gallery of the Absurd was online until 2001, at which time I decided to suspend the site since its upkeep was eating away at the time I should have been spending on my relatively new job as a college English professor. Since then, some other zhlub gobbled up my domain name, and an artist/blogger by the name of "14" has used the Gallery's name in her work. But mine is the original, annoying, time-wasting, controversial, amateurish, off-beat, insignificant, Madison Avenue-hating, and Webby Award-winning Gallery of the Absurd. Accept no imitations.

In the days to come I will begin posting new images of ads, labels, and signs that I find here and there, and along the way I'll also be posting many of the images I used to have up on the original Gallery Website--oldies but goodies. I might even bring back some of the speciality stuff such as that found on the Scary Clowns and the Annoying J. Crew Model of the Week pages. This will be, in essence, a blog-fueled reincarnation of the old Gallery of the Absurd. Tastes great, less filling.

Let me end these initial remarks with the words I featured on the original Gallery of the Absurd site, something that I called "Derek's Web Page Promise": These little bits of popular culture will make you laugh, they'll make you cry, and maybe, just maybe, you'll learn a little bit about yourself.

And with that, away we go....
Changing LINKS