Saturday, May 30, 2009

Love and Marraige

Yesterday's entry was all about love and "sausages." And speaking of dicks, what better follow up than a few words on the most recent commercial from the National Organization for Marriage.

Or perhaps I should have written "marraige." The latest scare tactic from the NOM people, arguing that legalized gay marriage will adversely affect straight couples and our kids, had originally misspelled "marriage" in the concluding frames. Here is a screen shot from that original commercial:

They've gone on to correct this egregious error. But what idiots! You'd think if you were going to whip up anti-gay frenzy, you would at least take the time to make sure your propaganda was correctly spelled. I wonder if Carrie Prejean proofread the ad for them?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Loving Your Hot Sausage

When in Elgin, Texas, please be sure to visit Southside Market and BBQ, a wondrous realm of love and romance!

Remember: If you can't be with the one you love, share a hot sausage with the one you're with.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

capital drinking

One final image gathered from my trip to Boston last week. This one is actually something you can find about anywhere, but it came to my attention in Beantown.

My good friend Christopher Gonzalez was drinking this on the way to Logan International, and the "smartwater" caught my eye. I was wondering what was up with the lack of capital letters. As Chris keenly observed, you'd think that something with "smart" in its name would at least take capitalization into consideration.

Given the use of all lower-case letters, I thought at first that the marketing people were going for that e. e. cummings feel. But after reading the stupid narrative on the label--complete with references to fluffy clouds, men in thongs, and "random stuff"--I kind of doubt that possibility.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Encounter the Grammar

Here's another picture from my trip to Boston. This one is of a sign hanging from a church in Copley Square. There are other such hangings adorning the facade, but this I found curious:

Isn't "holy" almost always used in the adjectival form? I know it's not completely unheard of to use the word as a noun, but it just seems rather odd. And wouldn't the word "experience" function better than "encounter"? I wonder who works on this church's marketing strategies.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mouthing Off about Pizza

Here's another picture from my recent sojourn to Boston. This one's of a sign for a small pizza joint, not too far from the Commons.

There's something about the chef in this picture that intrigues me. He looks a little funny, like his mouth is all tensed up for some reason. And I'm not certain if those lines near the lower part of his face are all supposed to represent his mouth, or if there's a tiny moustache in there somewhere. Click on the image and take a closer look, then you decide.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Chest Hair Made Simple

Late last week I was out of town, in Boston for the 20th annual American Literature Association Conference, and as such, I wasn't able to update the Gallery of the Absurd (since the Westin Copley, the hotel I was staying at, nickel and dimes you for Internet access). But while I was away, I took a few pictures of weird and/or annoying signs and advertisements I found while there. This week, I'll share those absurdities with you.

Like this one. Here's an advertisement that was in the galleria area of the Westin Copley. It's one of those large kiosk-like displays they strategically place among the many shops and restaurants, catching consumers unaware:

I'm sure many of you may recognize this as an ad for the Fitness Made Simple program, featuring fitness guru and infomercial celebrity, John Baselow. I took a picture of this display because I find it not only amusing, but disturbing as well. Baselow looks freaky enough--there's something about the seductive look on his face that gives me the willies--but what I find so curious is the open shirt and the lack of chest hair. Yes, you too can exercise your way into a smooth and cilia-free body!

What is it with exercise programs and men with hairless chests? I know that Baselow's isn't the only example of this out there, but it's one of the more cringe worthy.

Annoying J. Crew Model of the Week - 05/25/09

I present to you the Annoying J. Crew Model (or models, since there are two of them in this image) for the week of May 25.

At times I'm torn when deciding on some of these models. While on the one hand many of them are quite attractive, on the other hand they are put in stupid or senseless poses. Take this one, for example. I know they're going for the "smart" or serious look here (notice the glasses and the men's tie), but why is the woman on the right looking that way at the woman on the left? Is J. Crew attempting to perpetuate the stereotype that women are prone to jealousy and cat fights?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


More McDonald's McSchlock. I know it's for a good cause, but the doll just looks so damned scary.

Brought to you by Depends, Huggies, and Scott Towels! Things that unfortunately have no effect on soaking up schlock.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Dark Knight Re-Returns

Apparently the Dark Knight is making the rounds in northeast Texas. Back in February he came by the Britain Chevrolet dealership in Greenville, and this past weekend he was at Orr Nissan of Greenville for the "sale-a-bration."

And he's still wowing the crowds with the black power salute, I see. What a crime-fighter wonder!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

Here is an image from a 2008 advertisement campaign. It was created by the agency Serve, a non-profit organization in Milwaukee, WI, made up of advertising, marketing, media, and business professionals. According to their website, the folks at Serve "believe it is more important to leave a legacy of public service than a legacy of corporate profit." Their mission is admirable, but when they refer to a "legacy of public service" that would bring attention to social causes, did they really intend to "bring attention" in this manner?

Obviously there is nothing wrong with the spirit of this ad, an effort to combat statutory rape. But it's the execution that gets me. What the hell were they thinking? In trying to fight the objectification of underage girls, they objectify underage girls. I would assume that these are digitally enhance images, which adds a whole weird level to this ad campaign.

Here are two other posters in the campaign:

Again there is inadvertent eroticization of young girls. And on top of that, check out the message behind the girl on the left. Doesn't have the brain? But couldn't you say that of adult women, such as Miss California and media annoyance, Carrie Prejean?

From what I understand, these ads were pulled. I could find them listed nowhere on Serve's website. I guess the creative director, Gary Mueller, art director, Giho Lee, and photographer, Jeff Salzer have seen the error of their ways. Perhaps they didn't want their work to end up on Internet porn would be bad for business, now wouldn't it?

Annoying J. Crew Model of the Week - 05/18/09

Here's this week's Annoying J. Crew Model:

The people on the right are okay, I guess (at least okay for J. Crew models). But what's up with the woman on the left? The way she's standing, it looks like she's about to pee her panties. Maybe that's why she's got that big smile on her face.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bargain Clowning

Given yesterday's Gallery entry, I thought it only appropriate to follow it up with another round of clown-induced fun.

Here is the last remnant of the Bargain Clown Mart, on Vine Street near Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles.  The store is no longer there, but the sign remains as a marker for a local bar.

Retail clowns are frightening enough.  I wonder what kind of hell could have been found on the discounted level.  

Also, what's the deal with those images of pants, shoes, and a shirt? Are they inherently clownish?  Do they generate associations with clowndom?

Much thanks to Jenna, whose Adventures in Leisure blog provided this little bit of clown culture.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Clown Fantasy

Here's a 2007 print advertisement created by a South African agency as a part of Duracell's "Lasts longer, much longer. Sorry" campaign:

I'm not sure whether to feel uplifted by this ad--the destruction of a clown--or to be creeped out. The ambiance here is dark and foreboding, sort of a noir feel.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

"Before" Pumping

More for our Don't "Quote" Me on That feature!

Here's a photo that my friend, Sally Cruikshank, sent me yesterday. It's from a pump at a gas station she frequents:

What are people thinking when they make signs like this? At what point in their education were they taught that quotation marks can be used to emphasize a word or phrase?

For more inspired creations, please visit Sally's website, Fun on Mars. Sally is a wonderful animator and director, and you've probably seen some of her work on Sesame Street. Check out some of her animation on YouTube. Also, be sure sure to stop by and chat with one of her creation, Whinsey the Horse, who also has a blog of her own.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Email Ads Suck

A couple of months ago, dedicated Gallery watcher tantra flower sent me a stupid advertisement she found on her Hotmail account. Since then, I've been paying special attention to the kind of inane banners appearing on the various free email websites. I know the email service is free, so I should expect to be intruded upon with these ads. Still, they irritate me. Especially the supposedly eye-catching animated banners (you know the ones, with the idiotic Sims-looking people dancing for some reason). But even the non-animated ad banners are annoying and often make little sense. Take this one I found on Yahoo mail, for example:

There's really no logical connection between the image of the woman--who looks like she is posing for an online dating service--and being a mystery shopper. Aren't mystery shoppers supposed to blend in and be inconspicuous, not flirty and sexy-looking so as to draw attention to themselves?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Devil Made Me Do It

My good friend Al received this flyer in the mail. It's about a biblical prophecy seminar--a "multimedia event that will make a difference in your life!"--taking place in locations nearby. Here's the front of it:

Apparently, the Bible prophecy folks are pushing all of the buttons here: economic collapse, the wars in the Middle East and Asia, high gas prices, and of course Europe...or "Old Europe," according to ol' Rumsfeld, and for many, I guess, the source of much evil. Then there is the back cover:

I particularly like the foreboding profile of President Obama. It's almost as if he's the ringmaster behind all this chaos. Perhaps this photo should be placed on a right-wing commemorative plate. These images are a Christian conservative's wet dream. And what's with the "Coming New World Order" that Obama is apparently looking down upon? Is this meant ironically? Are right-wingers even susceptible to this form of humor? And wasn't "new world order" a phrase that a Republican president, George W.'s father, once used to describe what he wanted to do? But it gets even better when you look inside the brochure:

This is my favorite part: comments on the "New World Order," references to the Antichrist, the number 666, scary images of the end of the world...and along with all of this, a free children's program!

Yes, while you crap in your britches and commence to praying, your kids (ages 1-9) can enjoy a fun-filled evening learning about the end times. Just look at their little faces. It's like Santa Claus is coming...except it's a Santa with bloody machete and who looks like Pennywise.

Thank you, Mr. Wirtes, for helping us to laugh about life...again.

Monday, May 11, 2009


When driving down Highway 395 through beautiful Bishop, California, please be sure to stop by Simpson's Discount Tire.

Who wants to buy a blown tire? What kind of sense does this make? Then again, this is Simpson's Discount Tire, and as we all know, Homer works in mysterious ways.

Annoying J. Crew Model of the Week - 05/11/09

That's right kids, it's here! Your Annoying J. Crew Model of the Week!

In fact, today I'm posting three pages, all from a recent J. Crew catalog.

There are two things that these images have in common: all are of men, and all have the faces cropped off. The cropped faces aren't limited to just these three pages. In this particular catalog, every picture featuring a male is presented like this.

I find it curious that while many of the women's listings show almost a full body pose--much like the flamingo models and hillbilly girl in previous issues--all the men in this catalog get their heads cut off.

Are they ashamed of being J. Crew models? Are the catalog editors making some sort of twisted statement? Is everyone afraid these dudes might come off looking dorky like this guy...or this guy...or this guy?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mother Loving, Pt. 2

Continuing with our Mother's Day weekend theme...

Here's an advertisement from some mall jewellers:

The wording here is askew: "With every step, love grows. The journey". That last part, ending with no punctuation, is an incomplete thought, and it doesn't fit with the words that come next, "Happy Mother's Day". What's up with that? And visually, the ad suggests the loving ties between mother and child, which is fine, in and of itself. However, the vast majority of children, both young and old, can't afford the product being showcased here: diamonds. And not just one small gem, but jewelry with a number of diamonds. I hate holiday ads like this. Not only do they create unrealistic aspirations for the vast majority of the consuming public (and what ads don't?), but they also materialize the intangible.

Much like this advertisement from the Renault folks. It focuses on International Women's Day, but it's close enough to Mother's Day to sort of count...and many in the U.S. have mistaken this for a Mother's Day ad:

I get the message of the image, "What weak sex?," since it both emphasizes women and power (car ads usually do this only with men) and hints at the sexual underpinnings of automotive advertising. But again, why cheapen the achievements of women with such materialistic displays?

For my money, this 2004 Mother's Day advertisement from the Breast Cancer Institute of Australia is much more "on target":

This is serious business, and I guess there's nothing absurd about this ad. Still, outside of Hustler or Juggs, it's not often you see someone sucking a nipple in a magazine.

Breast cancer is one of the leading killers of women, so please help support research on breast cancer. And while you're at it, give your mom a big hug.

Mother Loving, Pt. 1

This is Mother's Day weekend, so I thought I'd post several advertisements surrounding this Hallmark holiday.

Here's something I found on a blog maintained by Fairydust, an online business specializing in "stylish stationary." There are many cutesy items featured on this site, and one of these is letter wall decorations for mom:

According to Fairydust, this is "the Perfect Mother's Day Gift...This gorgeous collection of wall letters and photo frames are handmade by the beautiful Melissa Crowther of Paper Patch Design." Apparently the ad's message, "ood palb," is a secret message from the beautiful Melissa that only mothers can understand.

And here are several newspaper clippings advertising Mother's Day sales at Dillard's, a department store chain. I found these on Sophia Dembling's blog. Apparently she feels about Dillard's what I feel about J. Crew. Sophia has a very discerning eye, and I'll let her commentary speak for itself. With this 2008 clipping:

"Is this the scariest ad EVER? It’s the attack of the mom clones. Not to mention the scary clothes. The outfit on Mom #1 is clearly designed for the mom you hate."

With another 2008 Mother's Day ad, Sophia asks a series of hard-hitting questions:

"Does Dillard's sell only the most hideous clothes its buyers can find? Is that why they can afford only one model? Why does Dillard's hate mothers?"

And then in a Dillard's ad for this year's Mother's Day:

"Sunday is Mother’s Day, which means it’s time for the parade of identical, badly dressed Dillard’s MILFs. This year, get your three moms expensive and wildly unflattering 'patio dresses.' Nothing says 'I love you' like a paisley tent."

Be sure you visit Sophia's blog at See what she has to say about Mother's Day, MILFs, and other curious phenomena.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Getting Your Kink with Amnesty International

Here's a poster from Amnesty International, part of their campaign to fight human trafficking and violence against women:

The thing that gets me about this ad is how misguided it is. What the hell were the designers thinking?! First off, the legs displayed here are very appealing, well-groomed, and clean-shaven. They're not the kind of legs you'd find on someone being used as human chattel, are they? Also, this comes across as a very sexy image. The small chain, the shapely legs, and the exposed toes all seem to emphasize the erotic and/or fetishistic. I would think that a poster like this would tend to "stimulate" objectification instead of discouraging it. I wonder you'll find this poster at a Days Inn?

I don't know, but it seems to me that this is the kind of advertising campaign that you would find with J. Crew. I can see it now: visit third-world countries and get your kink on in these exotic leather peep toes, perfect for that submissive in you.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Free Continental Breakfast, and Lolita to Boot

I'm still trying to get past yesterday's Gallery entry.  For some reason, I can't get the Red House theme song out of my head.

Maybe exposing this advertisement will help.  It's from a mailer we received last week, notifying us of the renovations of a local Days Inn:

What gets me about this promotion, which is focused on getting people to stay at their motel, is the fact that they've included a picture of a young girl.  The audience for this advertisement is obviously adults, so why not include an image of an attractive man and/or woman lounging on their comfortable beds?  

I wonder what this says about the demographics of northeast Texas...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ebony, Ivory...and an Ottoman

Here's a whacked-out commercial from Red House Furniture, a business out of High Point, North Carolina:

I'm a North Carolina native, and I used to live in the Triad area. But this is truly disturbing, no matter where you're from. Thank you Big Head and Ten Gauge, for helping us laugh about race relations in America. As MLK tried to tell us, it all comes down to home furnishings.

A big ol' stinky thanks to my friend Al Wirtes, the King of Kooky, who alerted me to this commercial on YouTube. Make sure you visit Al's blog, Jive Mofo.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Fun Times in Joppa

The other week, a friend of mine, Janine, had dinner at Gus's Pizza & Grill, located in that fun town of Joppa, Maryland. She scanned in and sent me her place mat so that I could share it with you, the loving and dedicated Gallery watchers out there.

As you can see, Gus really loads his place mats with lots of advertisements for local businesses. I guess this is good for the community, but I wonder how advertising bingo games helps in these economically hard times?

Perhaps it gives seniors a reprieve from watching their savings go down the toilet. Nothing says "time out" like a free jackpot card.

Then there are the businesses that choose to use quotes in their advertisements:

I'm not sure if "Everything I touch turns to sold" is a famous saying of Margaret Steen, or if she's somehow qualifying, or ironizing, the legitimacy of her business.

Apparently, Stephen McCann has some self-worth issues here:

Is "don't trust a geek" something that he heard as a child? Is this an example of reaction formation? Is his business some form of occupational therapy? And, as one Gallery fan, Nora, points out, what's with the stray apostrophe in "problems"?

Usually, when someone places a declarative or an imperative sentence in quotation marks, it should be either a direct quote from someone (usually something memorable) or entirely unique.

I'm not sure what makes the sentence, "Make First Choice your only choice," so special. Did someone at First Choice say this to someone, or screamed it in public, and then it just stuck as the business' slogan? Or is this a Harford Country way of double speak?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Rice Stick Boy

The other day, my son brought home a rice stick that one of his classmates had given him. On the packaging was a picture of a weird-looking kid, and my son thought that the wrapping would be a great entry in the Gallery of the Absurd. He was right:

Go ahead, take a closer look:

Remember, sweets can be bad for your (mental) health.

UPDATE: According to one Gallery watcher, the Japanese name for the rice stick is Tabetaibou, which translates into "The Stick You Want to Eat." I think we can all agree that this information adds an extra layer of creepiness to this product.

Annoying J. Crew Model of the Week - 05/04/09

Here's your Annoying J. Crew Model for the week of May 4th:

I'm not entirely sure what "boyfriend chinos" are. I guess they're kind of slouchy and have that "used" look, as if the woman has borrowed (or stolen) them from her boyfriend. I mean, why not just make comfortable, lived-in pants specifically for women? Why does it always have to come back to the man? Is J. Crew being sexist here? Whatever the reasoning behind the boyfriend chinos, it's a idiotic name for the kind of chincy marketing campaign we've come to expect from J. Crew.

What's next? Daddy boxer shorts? Grandma bras? Best friend pantie liners?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Elmer's May Day Fun

Since this is May Day, I thought it appropriate to present a worker-friendly entry on the Gallery of the Absurd. Here's something for a local lawn service in Broomfield, Colorado:

Just look at those images on the flyer. They add to the professionalism that is Elmer Sosa's Lawn Service. I wonder if "Mr. Elmer" has a brother named Sammy?

Much thanks to my good friend, Al Wirtes, for his discerning tastes in lawn care marketing.
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