Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pedro's Reality Ride

The other week as I was driving down I-95, I passed a number of those infamously annoying South of the Border billboards (see Monday's Gallery entry). And even though, having grown up in North Carolina, I have known about this tourist trap for most of my life, I've yet to visited the place. But I learned the other day that my friend, Andy Kunka, has had that "pleasure." He and a friend, Chris Sims, took a trip to South of the Border last year, and among the many curious--and depressing--sights they experienced was a sign for Pedro's Reality Ride:

This is indeed a creepy sight, something like Pee Wee Herman meets David Lynch. I asked both Chris and Andy what exactly the reality ride was all about. They told me that they couldn't discern any actual ride, but that they just assumed it had something to do with the giant freaky Pedro head behind the sign.

Be sure and check out Chris and Andy's South of the Border adventures at Chris's Invincible Super-Blog. Your life will never be the same afterwards.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sweeter Guy

I took my daughter to Sonic the other day for an afternoon treat, and she got an M&M Blast. This is the image that was on her Styrofoam cup:

The jaunty visage on the ice cream seems to be telling customers, "Yes, you can!" Although I'm a little afraid of what this message may actually refer to.

Monday, June 28, 2010

On the Road for Wackiness

It's summer, and many people are on the road traveling to their vacation destinations. And while on the road, travelers are sure to come across a variety of billboards that will cause them to scratch their heads in wonderment.

Here's one that I saw the other week while driving to the North Carolina coast. If you've traveled along Interstate-95 while in the Carolinas, you're sure to have seen one of these South of the Border monstrosities. I remember seeing these signs years ago as a kid, and their annoyance factor hasn't changed at all.
What is Pedro doing with his hands underneath the blanket...and why is he smiling so big?

Even more puzzling is this billboard found by my good friend, Al Wirtes, on his recent trip to Disney World.

Jeez, how the hell do I read this sign?! The person who designed it apparently had Patriotic Tourette Syndrome.

Be sure to check out Al's blog, Jive Mofo. You'll find it a jingoism-free zone.

Annoying J. Crew Model of the Week - 6/28/10

Your Annoying J. Crew Model for the week of June 28th:

Fix your collar, for chrissake!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Face Pain(t)

Rejoice! It's the weekend...time to celebrate and enjoy some


This week's bundle of retro joy is a 1940s advertisement from the American Cyanamid Company. Its consumer division use to manufacture cosmetic and grooming products.

American Cyanamid is no longer around, having merged with American Home Products in the 1990s, but for awhile it was involved in various legal battles concerning chemicals and environmental waste. Given the image on this ad, it's no surprise they had a history with toxicity.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Disembodied Family Goodness

Gallery watcher Frank Allen found this creepy billboard while driving through Neosho, MO:
Nothing like the disembodied head of a doughy white guy named "Daddy Jim" to pique your appetite.

Thanks Frank!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Me Eat Me

Here's an advertisement I found in a local paper. The thing that's so disturbing about this is the fact that a baby pig is shown enjoying a bar-b-que sandwich. In other words, the pig is engaging in cannibalism, and ecstatically so. Isn't this how mad cow disease started?

For more examples of ads and signs with animals eating their own, and themselves, visit the blog Suicide Food. Mmmm.....yummy.....

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now?

Once again, my good friend, Brian Donahue, has come through with another brain cramp-inducing contribution to The Gallery of the Absurd. This one is an ad for Ring No More, a homeopathic remedy to Tinnitus. I'll let Brian's words on this little piece of advertising genius speak for themselves:

"I'm wondering why this dude is dressed like Laura Petrie (Mary Tyler Moore) from The Dick Van Dyke Show."
"That's a left-handed guitar. But since it's a prop, I suspect it's really a right-handed guitar and that the picture editors just didn't notice that the photo was reversed."

"WTF is up with the devil-horn sign? Is he a cross-dressing, elderly Satanist on his way to a clam bake?"

"I also don't get why the woman in the lower left corner is covering her ears. Is that guy making a loud noise?"

Thank you, Brian, for helping us laugh about life...again.

By the way, Brian was very first person to experience what was later to become The Gallery of the Absurd. I used to share an office with him in grad school, and there I would put up some of these strange advertisements and labels so as to lighten the mood. For more information, check out the history of the Gallery.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Putz Stuff

I'm wondering if there's something in the air, or perhaps some kind of demented harmonic convergence. In the past couple of days I've received submissions from two dedicated fans of the Gallery, and both of them have to deal with...well, see for yourself.

Here's something sent in by John Bird, who recently found this in a Chinese market.

I know I had featured a Grace Cock Flavored Soup Mix label a couple of years ago, but this one is slightly different. It's "authentic Jamaican."

Two days after I received John's submission, longtime Gallery fan, Dave Carvell, sent me this one:
I could say that sponge pudding sounds unappetizing, but I think the other name on the label has cornered that market.

I know these are legitimate food items with legitimate names. But hey, indulge that immature side of yourself and have a few chuckles.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Mystery Measure

While driving back from the NC coast this weekend, we got gas at a rest stop that catered to truckers. Outside the restrooms, there was a rack with many business card-sized advertisements from various companies needing professional drivers. Here's one I picked up:

It's from Barr-Nunn Transportation, Inc., and they're looking for drivers. But I'm not exactly sure what this guy is holding in his hand or what it has to do with the ad. I've looked at it closely, and it's not a dipstick or a tire gauge. Perhaps it's a home pregnancy test, or maybe even a rectal thermometer.

Annoying J. Crew Model of the Week - 6/21/10

This week's Annoying J. Crew Model is another in what is apparently an ongoing series of flamingo poses (search through previous Annoying J. Crew Model entries and you'll see what I'm referring to).

This one reminds me of the dorky hillbilly girl from November 2008. In fact, it looks like the same model.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Double Deutsch Bus

The Gallery at the Beach (cont.)


Since we're wrapping up our beach vacation, I thought it would be appropriate for this weekend's Retro-Adtivity entry to be one that reflected the locale:
That's right...relaxation options for the master race.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Phallic Babies

The Gallery at the Beach (cont.)

While searching for some ice cream for my kids, I came across this interesting product:
I'll refrain from commenting on the packaging.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Magic Creep

The Gallery at the Beach (cont.)

I saw this advertisement at the local Food Lion grocery store. There's nothing really unusual about this in-store promotion, I guess.
But there's something about the look of the magician dude that creeps me out.
Remember, this actor has to live with himself after doing this shoot.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Coastal Quotes

The Gallery at the Beach (cont.)

Here are a couple of advertisements I found in a local magazine, both for restaurants in the Wilmington area, and both that are punctuationally challenged.

What strikes me about this ad is the quote, "Downtown's Landmark Restaurant." Why is that phrase in quotation marks? Is it something someone said? A comment made in a restaurant review? Shouldn't we be alerted to the context?

This one's even more of a mystery. The headline ends with a quotation mark, but where is the opening one? Did they leave it back in Brooklyn?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Nothin' from Nothin' Leaves Nothin'

The Gallery at the Beach (cont.)

More signage fun at Topsail Island. Here's a local Waves store with "Nothing Over $5.99" advertised. Apparently, the mix & match swimsuits aren't included.

This is the same Waves I saw last year, and apparently they're still hoping that folks won't notice their teeny tiny "selected sections" qualifier underneath the "$5.99" price.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Webby Memories

Webby Memories

Tonight is the 14th annual Webby Awards ceremony. In light of this, let's pause for a moment and remember back to 1997, the first year of the Webby Awards...when The Gallery of the Absurd was a big winner.

Yep, The Gallery of the Absurd won a Webby Award. The first week of March 1997 I went to San Francisco to attend the ceremonies, and I walked away with a Webby. In fact, The Gallery of the Absurd swept the entire "Weird" category, winning both the Critics' Choice and the People's Choice votes. I felt highly honored, especially because I was up against some very good weird sites (take a look at them on the Webby's past winners page). I even beat The Onion, if you can believe it.

My time at the 1997 Webby Awards was great fun! How much fun, you ask? Well, see the pictures below and you'll get a sense of what happened there. Special thanks to my good friend, Randy Crain, for taking most of these pictures.

Here we are before the ceremony, me with my friends Randy and Kelli. Randy is looking at an issue of The Web magazine that they gave out free to all guests. I have no idea why I have that expression on my face. Perhaps I sat on something.

Below, that's me on the right up on stage accepting the award. The metallic babe to the left was the funky mistress of ceremonies, Cintra Wilson. Nothing against Cintra, but I had no idea who she was. Now the Webby Awards are such a big deal that they have some pretty big names who attend. This year, B. J. Novak, of The Office fame, is hosting the ceremonies.

Here I am right after having won. Despite appearances to the contrary, I'm not hopped up on goof balls. I'm just happy to have won the Webby Award.

After the ceremony, the event organizers asked all winners to go into the VIP lounge so that we could talk with the media. In the photo below, the dude with the microphone was from PBS. There were a lot of interviews that night, and they all seemed to flow together. But I do remember this guy being a little too happy and excited for his own good.

Below is a quick shot of my reaction after my award broke--that's right broke--and half of it fell to the ground. Luckily, nothing cracked or shattered. When I got back home, I fixed it with a little epoxy. However, a Webby Awards producer standing near me got on my case for holding the award "incorrectly" (as if the award came with special instructions). It was kind of funny, in a way. When the marble base fell off and onto the floor, all of the media cameras immediately pointed in that direction. I guess that's what you get when you try to use a hot glue gun to attach two heavy pieces of non-porous material (marble and glass)...which is what the Webby people apparently did. I hope their awards this year are more sturdy.

The broken award.

The VIP lounge is where all of the celebrities in attendance mingled with the winners. Here's an off-centered shot of me shaking hands with the San Francisco major at the time, Willie Brown. I have no idea what he's doing with his tongue, but it frightens me even now just looking at the picture.

Here I am with a much more enjoyable celebrity, this time web star Danni Ashe, the beautiful webmistress of one of the earliest Internet porn site, Danni's Hard Drive. She really is a friendly and unassuming person.

Another one with me and Danni.

The black and white picture below was taken by a retro-looking guy going for the Jimmy Olson look and with a nice old camera. This is me with my friends Lisa, Kelli, and Randy.

After a full evening of schmoozing, boozing, and not losing, here I am standing outside of Bimbo's 365 Club (where the ceremony was held) with my broken award, one piece in each hand. I have no idea what that red splotch is down at the bottom of the picture. Perhaps the aura of webmaster joy? Pride? Late night indigestion?

So there you go, my experiences at the 1997 Webby Awards. My fifteen minutes of fame.

Pudding Ponderings

The Gallery of the Absurd Goes to the Beach

Topsail Island, NC, like any vacation spot, has its share of wacky signs, labels, and advertisements. Here's something I found at the local Food Lion:
I have to admit, I love liver pudding (an unhealthy and guilty pleasure of mine), so I shouldn't make fun of this. But there's something about the appearance of this particular product that has me wondering what they really mean by "pudding."

Annoying J. Crew Model of the Week - 6/14/10

Your Annoying J. Crew Model for the week of June 14th:

I'm not sure what she's supposed to be doing, but whatever it is, it's really stupid.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

True Grit

It's the weekend! Time for some


I used to see these ads in comic books all of the time. I even tried selling Grit at one point. I never won anything cool.
Maybe my problem was that I just didn't look like this kid.
His face still haunts me....

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Special "Shrimp"

Here's an advertisement that I found in one of the local freebie papers in town. I was particularly struck by the house special, a great candidate for our Don't "Quote" Me on That feature:

I wonder if "fish" is one of their house specials as well.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lettuce Boy

Here's the package of lettuce found at a New Jersey Costco:

What with that collar and the haircut, this image of Andy Boy is simply mesmerizing. Let him be your friend.

Much thanks to my friend Andy Kunka, the original Andy Boy, for providing today's nugget of Gallery joy.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

More of Less

Here's a billboard I saw in town:

What strikes me is the arrangement of the wording. I know what the advertisers are trying to do with the bold-face type. After we read "now" we're supposed to move our eyes down to "50%," and then move up to "more." But our Western habits of reading dictate that we read from left to right, and then back down to the next line. So in this way, the billboard reads, "Now more 50% batteries." I've used Rayovac batteries in the past, and I can say from personal experience that this is definitely a case of truth in advertising.

Monday, June 7, 2010


When in Santa Monica, be sure to visit the Father's Office brewery.

And if you are able to find it, please give them their lost apostrophe.

Much thanks to the blog, Apostrophe Catastrophes, for providing this image.

Annoying J. Crew Model of the Week - 6/7/10

The Annoying J. Crew Model for the week of June 7th.

This one is doubly annoying...and not just because there are two models.

Not only are these women embarrassingly thin--yeah, more positive role models--but they look a lot alike. It's as if there is one correct image for the beautiful people.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Truth in Advertising

Another sign from my trip to San Francisco last week:

It ain't kosher, but you've got to admire the directness of their marketing.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Kills the Germs That Cause Bad Breath

Saturday is upon us, so now let's turn out attention to some


This week's retro ad was sent in by long-time Gallery watcher, Dave Carvell, who remembers seeing this in an old magazine at his grandmother's farm:
Hmmmmm.....If the magazine says so, why not?

By the way, what's with the spider web in the background?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sci-Fi Organ Donor

More fun from San Francisco!

Today's entry is a picture of a t-shirt I found in one of the tourist shops. I'm not exactly sure what it is about Star Wars and San Francisco that go together.
But what I found even more curious about this t-shirt is the image of the Imperial Stormtrooper helmet. The way that the breathing apparatus is drawn, it looks like some kind of bodily organ...such as kidneys or testicles.

My parents went to San Francisco, and all I got was this non sequitur t-shirt.

Much thanks to my friend, Aimee Pozorski. She's the one who drew my attention to the image.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Scary Dreyer's Head

Another nugget of advertising joy, brought to you by the fine people in San Francisco.

This one is a Dreyer's ice cream sign that I found at Pier 39, a touristy and crowded shopping area on the bay. What caught my eye was the creepy-looking head with the shifty eyes.
Go ahead. Take a closer look. Soak it all in.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Good Ol' Fashion Nightmare Fuel

Here's another (disturbing) visual moment from my recent trip to San Francisco:

Along the Embarcadero is the Teatro ZinZanni, a nightclub/dinner theater that is described on its website as "a bewitching evening of European Cabaret and Cirque, Divas and Madmen, Spectacle and Sensuality."

My god, I still can't get these faces out of my head. The one in the middle is eerily serious, and the freak on the left appears as if he's about to kill someone. He looks like Jerry Robinson's inspiration for the Joker. But the Joker was created in 1940, so this can't be...or can it?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hand Job

I was in San Francisco last week for a conference, and while there I found a number of interesting signs and advertisements. I'll share them with you in the coming days.

Here's the door of a palm reading business that was right across the street from the conference hotel. Notice the sign in the bottom left: "Nails for you!" It seems this palm reader provides full service, taking care of both sides of your hand.

Much thanks to my friend, John Bird, who was also attending the conference. He was the one who alerted me to this little bit of San Francisco wackiness.

Changing LINKS