Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year

My pals and I would like to wish you the happiest of New Years, may 2015 bring you health, wealth, and prosperity!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas to All!

Peeping Santa wishes all of you the Merriest of Christmases and so do I. Here's hoping you're safe and warm with your loved ones this Christmas Eve. May you find your heart's desire under your Christmas tree...or maybe the mistletoe!

Two Hundred Years Ago - The Sunset of the War of 1812

Two hundred years ago today, in the Flemish city of Ghent, two combatants sat down across from each other to sign a treaty ending two years of war and forging an unlikely alliance that would weather two World Wars and change the course of world history. Though Andrew Jackson famously defeated the British at New Orleans in January of 1815 and the treaty wouldn't be ratified by the US Congress until February 18, 1915, the Prince Regent's signature officially put hostilities to an end and restored the pre-war borders of both countries. Ironic that Britain and the United States would be involved in another war a century later, this time fighting side-by-side in the trenches. Time makes strange bedfellows.

12 Smokes of Christmas

Since first hearing T'was the Night Before Christmas many of us have probably imagined Santa with a brier pipe held in his teeth as he goes about the business of filling stockings and placing packages under the tree. Maybe that's what makes the eradication of smoking so hard, the ancient attachment and primitive magic of taking fire into ourselves.

Here's hoping your fire burns bright this holiday season and that you and yours gather around it, warm yourselves while you enjoy the company of those you love. Merry Christmas and to all a good night!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

12 Smokes of Christmas

Webster Cigars, the gift that says silent loathing. Sometimes a cigar is just a reminder that that nuisance brother-in-law of yours will be staying until New Years Eve.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Funnies - Mermaid's Christmas Tree (1900)

Life Magazine, December 1, 1900

12 Smokes of Christmas

The oldest of the 12 Smokes of Christmas ads (1915), Tuxedo pipe tobacco promised peace on earth and goodwill to men if you didn't count secondhand smoke-related illness.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

12 Smokes of Christmas

A pretty generic Pall Mall ad from 1953 - Christmas red, ribbons, holly, bow, and denial.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

12 Smokes of Christmas

Does this mean they are actually transforming into Chesterfield cigarettes? A neat trick, but I'm not sure it's a selling point!

Friday, December 19, 2014

12 Smokes of Christmas

Wrapped for Christmas, no less. I wonder if that refers to the Santa cigar box shown in the ad.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

12 Smokes of Christmas

You've seen the organ grinder's monkey outfit, well here's Philip Morris' version. Something tells me this kid has the voice of Peter Lorre and the mannerisms to match. Just try imaging Lorre delivering the tagline from this ad without getting the creeps.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Fun with Food - Piles by Hunts (1949)

To be honest, I'm surprised the "greatest generation" was able to win World War II. I've seen hundreds of food ads from the 1940's and 50's and, having witnessed the crimes against comestibles committed during those eras, I wouldn't have thought they'd have the energy. I mean, look what they were eating? I mean look at this. Hunt's would like us to believe it's "oven croquettes", but I'm telling you it looks more like a steaming plate of hemorrhoids with tomato sauce. I mean food shouldn't be pyramidal. It just shouldn't.

12 Smokes of Christmas

Possibly the oldest ad in our 12 Smokes of Christmas journey, this Murad piece shows us what Santa did after kissing mommy. Kind of gives a new meaning to the tagline "what could you enjoy more this Xmas than Murad?"

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

12 Smokes of Christmas

And we thought typographic shorthand like LOL and ROTFL. Almost seventy years ago Lucky Strike came up LSMFT, all that and a holly wreath.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Little Christmas Music - Jingle Bells (Nat King Cole)

One of the warmest and swingingest versions of the old bell/sleigh tune I've ever heard is the one done by Nat King Cole. Take it away, Mr. Cole.

The Funnies - What If... (1900)

Life Magazine, December 1, 1900

12 Smokes of Christmas

I'm not sure how effective it is to say, "hey, at least we don't cost more than the other guy's cigarettes...", but that was Fatima's angle. The only thing holiday about the "smart carton" Fatima came in was the red bow and holly leaves, then again a Christmas ad shilling cigarettes made from Turkish tobacco that bear the name of the daughter of the prophet Mohammed...well, you're probably on shaky ground to begin with.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Little Christmas Music - The Santa Claus Express (Henry Hall and the BBC Dance Orchestra)

Twelve days 'till Christmas and the Santa Claus Express is pulling away from the station! Love this goofy little 1933 tune!

12 Smokes of Christmas

Something tells me the kind of discrimination this lady's into isn't the sort one associates with good taste. Though this ad dates to the 50's, you'll notice that the cigarette pack touts Tareytons as cork tipped. The cork filter dates back to the early twenties, at the time making Tareyton's smokes a throwback to grandpa's cigarettes. Love the tagline, "there's something about them you'll like". They aren't sure what, but surely there's something!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Steampunk Saturday - The California Tank

Behold the tank as imagined by designers in California back in 1917. The design steals from the British tanks present on the battlefields of World War I with one exception, a single front wheel and armor that would make it utterly useless on the battlefield. Even the article in Popular Mechanics stated that the California design would be hopeless in a landscape of shell craters, obstacles, and trenches. Still, it does look a little like the love-child of H. G. Wells and Leonardo Da Vinci. Worthy steampunk fodder, I'd say.

Steampunk Saturday - Perpetual Motion Machines

It's not surprising that perpetual motion machines have fascinated crackpot inventors since before Leonardo da Vinci. Mankind loves the idea of something for nothing. It's what drives us to cut coupons, buy two-for-one deals, and believe burning fossil fuels couldn't possibly impact the environment. Perpetual motion is the Fountain of Youth of the inventor's world, undying power - mechanical immortality, and it drew the attentions of notables such as Robert Boyle (of Boyle's Law fame) and Nikola Tesla. In the end, like the Fountain, perpetual motion proved to be nothing but a myth, a lovely idea that hucksters and hoaxers used to part suckers from their hard-earned cash.

A collection of perpetual motion machines as shown in the October 1920 issue of Popular Science

In 1920 Popular Science Magazine printed an article driving another stake in the heart of the mythological beast, but the beast that is perpetual motion survived. In 1977 Emil T. Hartman patented a magnetic system with the distinctly unromantic acronym of SMOT which purported to change magnetic energy into kinetic energy which exceeded the amount of required to power the magnets. It never has worked. And, less you see the fad of perpetual motion as dead and gone, as recent as 2006 Steorn Ltd. claimed to have created a magnetic device which would withstand scientific scrutiny, in 2009 the jury of scientists they solicited stated the device did not work.

The facts are interesting, but this is a Steampunk Saturday post and, as such, we should take a look at something that looks like it could have come from the mind of Jules Verne or H. G. Welles. Not to disappoint, I give you mass-transit done perpetual motion-style.

From the October 1920 issue of Popular Science Magazine, an outtake supposedly from the September issue of the Galaxy Illustrated Magazine

Though Popular Science didn't reveal the inventor's name a search showed that an article regarding perpetual motion and "self-moving carriages riding on conical wheels" appeared in the September 1871 issue of The Galaxy Illustrated Magazine and I even managed to find a line drawing of one of the carriage cars. Unfortunately, Google's repository of scanned ephemera doesn't contain the issue of interest. I'll keep looking, maybe it will appear eventually. Regardless, if you need a topic for your steampunk crackpot scientist to obsess over, perpetual motion just might do the trick!

From the September 1871 issue of the Galaxy Illustrated Magazine

12 Smokes of Christmas

Old Gold, for a treat instead of a treatment. What the heck does that mean? Well, for one it marks the beginning of the recognition smoking causes health problems. For decades afterward cigarette manufacturers would engage in creative language to disguise or deny the detrimental effects of smoking. They'd put out low tar, light, and even ultra-light cigarettes while simultaneously engaging in a program of obfuscation to protect their billion-dollar industry. But hey, Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 12, 2014

12 Smokes of Christmas

Camels in a carton...and Prince Albert in a can! Let 'em out!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Thursday, December 4, 2014

What Were They Thinking? Cannon Sheets (1946)

Lois Lane figures out Sups was Clark Kent all the time, and goes over the edge.

FAO Schwarz Toy Store Ad

Santa's making air drops of toys for all the good girls and boys! FAO Schwarz ad from the December 1911 issue of McClure's Magazine. I'm trying to imagine what novelties a kid might want for Christmas, but I'm coming up empty.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Little Christmas Music - Greensleeves, The Beverly Sisters (1956)

As the group's name implies, the Beverly Sisters consists of three sisters (Joy, Babs, and Teddie) who crafted their singing style in the image of the sister groups which were popular during the 1940's. They grew up in wartime London, being evacuated to the Midlands to avoid the German blitz where they became part of a group of child singers known as the Ovalteenies (yes, promoting Ovaltine). Jock Ware, conducting the Ovalteenies audition, recognized the sisters' potential and signed them for the sum of 15 Guineas.

Through his connections with Cecil Madden, head at BBC Alexandra Palace, Ware secured an appearance for the sisters at the BBC's wartime location in Bedford. During this session the Beverlys met Glenn Miller who, impressed by their performance, offered the choice of any of his musicians to help them make their recording with the proper accompaniment. Unfortunately fate dealt a blow to the Beverly Sisters when Miller died in a plane wreck in 1944.

The Beverly Sisters appeared on BBC TV after the war and eventually appeared on NBC with the remainder of Glenn Miller's band backing their performance. After a successful Palladium appearance with Danny Kaye, the sisters were given their own BBC show. Three Little Girls was eventually renamed Those Beverly Sisters and ran for seven years.

Like most artists of the era, the sisters recorded an album of Christmas tunes. Theirs, entitled Christmastime, featured a hit version of I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause, but due to my allegiance to Spike Jones' version, I couldn't choose that one to kick the season off. Instead I went with Greensleeves, a song that has a lot of personal meaning for me.

What happened to the Beverleys? Well, I'll let AllMusic's biography do the talking:

"During the 1960s and 1970s the sisters, who had five children in their families by now, only took local London bookings, preferring not to travel far from home. In the 1980s the children -- who had inherited their mothers' talent for harmony -- began singing under the stage name of the Foxes so as not to use the Beverley Sisters name. One night at the London Hippodrome nightclub where the Foxes were playing, Peter Stringfellow requested that the mums, although by then in semi-retirement, appear on stage themselves, and although this was not their sort of venue (with loud amplified music and laser light shows), they finally agreed. The reception they received was beyond their wildest imagination and led to two entirely new careers: performing for the troops overseas as a nostalgia act, and on the gay circuit as a camp act (even releasing a dance version of their song "Sisters"). They are still active in the 21st century, performing for the Queen as part of her Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002. They also signed up for a ten-date tour with Max Bygraves to re-create the 1952 Royal Variety Performance in which they appeared together for the first time. They took part in the D-Day 60th anniversary memorial in 2004, and in January 2006 all three sisters were awarded MBEs in the New Year's honors list."

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Little Christmas Music - I've Got My Love to Keep me Warm

Les Brown and the Starlighters turning the heat up to keep our tootsies toasty!

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Funnies - Store Discount (1927)

He: How would you like some lingerie for your Christmas?
She: I'd adore it! Listen, I can get it at fifty per cent off where I work.
He: That's an idea.
She: Sure it is. You can buy me something else with that discount.
Life magazine, December 1927

A Little Christmas Music -Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians

Back in 1954 General Electric sponsored a show featuring Christmas Music by Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians. I wonder what ever became of the announcer...

Quote for December

" are April when they woo, December when they wed. Maids are May when they are maids, but the sky changes when they are wives."

As You Like It, Act 4, Scene 1
William Shakespeare