Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ford Becomes First Automaker to Use Interracial Crash Test Dummies

In an historic announcement, the Ford Motor Company has revealed that beginning in 2015, it will utilize interracial-style dummies during its automotive safety tests, becoming the first company to make such a move.

"Ford is an American company, an American icon," said a spokesman for the company.  "And the America of the 21st century is a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities.  We sell cars and trucks to a huge and varied clientele, so why shouldn't our crash test dummies reflect that diversity?"

The first safety tests of the new year, scheduled in February, will be conducted with Ford's newly commissioned multi-race anthropomorphic test devices, some of which are illustrated above.

"Accidents are equal opportunity tragedies," the spokesman continued.  "We want our tests to be as close to the real thing as possible because at Ford, safety is first.  Everyone's safety."

Friday, November 15, 2013

Insta-Punch: Crabnox's Punchline Generator for Comedians

If you're like 4 out of 5 comedians, you agree that the hardest part of writing a joke is coming up with that killer punchline. For decades--nay, centuries--comedians have been writing promising setups, only to hit an impasse when trying to bring the joke to a hilarious close.

Now, with the exciting new Insta-Punch, CRABNOX creates the punchline for you. Simply click the "Generate Punchline" button and the riotous conclusion to your joke is already written! All you have to do is go back and write the setup.

The punchline to your next joke is:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Digital Age: How eBay Sellers Give Us the Finger

eBay may bill itself as "the world's online marketplace", but it also offers the Internet shopper an unprecedented opportunity to examine, at close range, the digits of entrepreneurs the world over.

A recent CRABNOX search found that approximately 12% of all "vintage" and "antique" ring listings on eBay contained at least one photograph of the seller's finger(s).  Some fingers model the ring, while others merely hold it in front of the camera.

On the day we conducted our research, there were over 3,000 such finger-featuring listings.  While some listings highlighted a single finger, others depicted the entire quintet of fingers.  We calculated that, by our limited search alone, one could use eBay to view 7,500 human fingers per week.  That's a staggering 390,000 per year.  If we expand our search to include non-antique and non-vintage rings, that number could increase dramatically, perhaps even breaking the million finger mark.

Presented herewith are some typical examples of eBay finger shots.

CRABNOX Adds Self-Documentary to Its Masterpiece DVD Collection

CRABNOX is pleased to announce the addition of Self-Documentary to its Masterpiece Collection of DVDs.  This special edition of the classic documentary, which is a feature-length film that chronicles its own creation, includes the original director's cut and a host of bonus features.  Now available wherever it is sold.

Here's what they're saying:

"This astonishing film is so brilliantly realized it makes Capturing the Friedmans look like 'The Making of Troll 2.'"
-Peter Perofovich, director of Self-Documentary

"…Simply the Best.  Better than all the rest…"
-Tina Turner

-American Astronomical Society

Other films in the Masterpiece Collection:
Sophie's Choice 2:  Not Again!
Forbidden Proposal II:  the Other Side of Tomorrow

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The AMNH: Manhattan's Shabbiest Museum

        It occupies an 18-acre plot of land.  It comprises over two dozen buildings, some barely visible anymore, in a mishmash of architectural styles.  It houses various laboratories, a gigantic library, and rundown, labyrinthine, and poorly lit corridors strewn with skeletons and preserved animal specimens.  Much of it has been neither updated nor renovated--nor perhaps even simply dusted--in decades.  It's not the vast, ramshackle estate of a mad scientist in a horror film.  It's the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side.
Those who point out declining public and federal interest in such institutions may blame a lack of upkeep funds.  A postmodern apologist for the AMNH's current state may advance the theory that the museum as a whole, by allowing much of itself to decay in an almost organic manner, is intentionally becoming one of its own exhibits.  However, the simplest and most compelling explanation is an old adage slightly modified:  "If nobody cares that it's broke, don't fix it."
In spite of rampant dilapidation, the AMNH attracts a stampede of nearly 14,000 visitors a day, or approximately 5 million yearly.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the only New York museum to top the AMNH in number of visitors, leads by only a small margin of about 4.8%.  Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art and Guggenheim are comparatively deserted, drawing in approximately 2.5 million and 1.1 million visitors per year, respectively, in spite of their being more interesting and culturally relevant (and less depressing).
As at other museums, permanent installations account for the bulk (by our estimation 85%) of the AMNH's public offerings.  These are augmented by special exhibitions that change periodically.  Currently, the museum boasts 45 exhibit halls and six special exhibitions (one is an IMAX movie, another a space documentary narrated by astronomer Whoopi Goldberg).
Of course, only the regular displays are included with general admission tickets (suggested price:  $19).  It costs extra to see any of the special exhibits, implying that the permanent displays are the raison d'être of the American Museum of Natural History.  "If you see nothing else," the ticket pricing structure seems to implore, "at least see those."
Upon entering the museum through an imposing Neo-Classical façade located a flight of stairs above street level on Central Park West, you have begun an experience that will prove by turns exhausting, depressing, disappointing, and disorienting.
The main entrance hall--the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda--is a cavernous, sun-drenched room filled with the deafening buzz of hundreds of tourists, their multilingual shouts reverberating in the vast chamber.  After navigating the throng, standing in line for several minutes, and shelling out money for a ticket, you pass into "Asian Mammals," whereupon you must pause for several seconds and adjust to the suddenly tomblike ambience.  Once acclimated to the gloomy silence and crepuscular lighting, you are ready to commence a grim odyssey through hall after dilapidated hall, floor after rundown floor, of begrimed installations, crumbling dioramas, and criminally outdated graphic design.
In spite of the museum's impressive attendance numbers, many of the exhibition halls seem curiously bereft of browsers.  When somebody is spotted, he is often plodding mechanically from one end of a gallery to the other, robotically going through the motions, never really examining any of the displays.  As a result, the studious patron has the opportunity to be rewarded (or punished) with an undisturbed, close-up look at each exhibition room.
During your dreary pilgrimage through the museum, you will make certain observations about the galleries, such as that many are festooned with discarded pamphlets, food wrappers, remnants of industrial adhesive tape, and other assorted ephemera.  You will notice unpleasant odors and sudden temperature shifts.  You will see halfheartedly repaired floors, flaking paint, dust-coated windows, and illogically placed pieces of random furniture.  Once you begin inspecting the installations, you will see desiccated landscapes, crudely constructed replicas of flora and fauna, discolored acrylic "ponds," lazy special effects, and hopelessly démodé typography, all of which are often displayed in dioramas.  These dioramas are frequently fading, disintegrating, or incomplete.  They are always lifeless and pedantic.
      This is a museum that boasts many attendees (most of whom pay the full suggested admission), a sizable endowment (its financial records are available for the public, visible through a simple web search), and starring roles in Hollywood movies (e.g., Night at the Museum).   It sounds glamorous and fabulous, but let's get down to brass tacks and take a look at what you, the museum patron, will really see during your visit.

^The Museum meant to depict a stream, but what remains now is nothing more than a rust-stained trench (suggesting not only poor exhibit maintenance, but also high iron content in the water that once ran through this tableau).  

^The Museum's Grand Gallery as captured by this CRABNOX reporter.  Subsequent visits to the Grand Gallery confirmed that it tends to be bereft of patrons.  At the time this image was captured, the opposite side of the Grand Gallery featured an impressive natural mineral sample as well as an empty garment rack.

^Like many exhibit halls in the AMNH, this one features poorly maintained floors and a lack of viewers.

^On a display card, a reference to insects fails to explain the strange grey substance covering a fake apple.  The reference to insects is rendered all the more confusing by the lack of any depiction of insects in the display.  

^The AMNH often relies upon on diner-style typography.

^This image depicts one of the AMNH's most prized diamond specimens.  Unfortunately, the stone is hard to discern since the Museum decided to place it against a yellowing swatch of carpet-like synthetic material.

^Relief map showing the principal environmental areas which influence the distribution of animal life.  This relief map also displays cracks, tears, and smoke stains.

^The AMNH has a curious sense of time.  For instance, it continues to display as "recent acquisitions" items obtained nearly a decade ago.  

^Some sort of chemical reaction or mineral degradation is occurring here.  The AMNH does not seem concerned that one of its mineral specimens is leaking a substance curiously similar to the powdery cheese substance packed in boxes of Kraft macaroni products.  

^Many exhibits--a significant number of them--are disgracefully titled with cut-out cardboard letters attached to the walls of the museum with small nails.

^Always on the bleeding edge of farm technology, the AMNH shows us the "modern farmer."  This caption, prominently displayed, accompanies a depiction of a man riding a tractor and is dated 1950.  

^The Museum's depiction of the natural history of Asia involves a swami floating on a magic carpet (convincingly rendered with special effects).

^An unauthorized photograph (flashes forbidden!) captures the decor of the AMNH.  

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

We Don't Design Ceiling Fans for Less Than $10,000 a Day

In the late 1990s, supermodels began to fade from the prominence they had held for the previous decade, forcing many of them to alter their career trajectories in order to remain relevant.  Linda Evangelista is now the face of L'Oréal Paris. Heidi Klum makes huge sums co-hosting Project Runway. Tyra Banks is beloved by millions (and reviled by more still) for her daytime TV omnipresence. Even Carla Bruni, 20 years after her heyday, remains a fashion icon as former model, former songstress, and current French first lady.

Modeling is, at its essence, merely a form of advertising, but it is not uncommon for a model to display a more extreme and personal form of hucksterism in the post-runway twilight of her career, during which time she'll actually put her imprimatur on a product line. Just as NFL quarterback Joe Montana now pitches a glucosamine-laden bevarge called Joint Juice (his former athletic prowess ostensibly lends him the credibility to endorse a pseudo-medical product promising to reduce joint pain), '60s relic Twiggy shills an "iconic and eclectic" clothing and accessory line on the Home Shopping Network (her former cover girl status ostensibly lends her credibility to endorse pseudo-stylish apparel).

But now, a disturbing new role is being played by certain erstwhile members of the Vogue and Elle set: the ex-model-turned-furniture-designer. Or, perhaps more accurately, furniture "designer."  Below, CRABNOX will examine the epitome of this type of peddler:  Kathy Ireland.

Above:  stock photography and amateurish collage are hallmarks of the kathy ireland Worldwide® advertising aesthetic.

Original sources of fame:  Ireland was "discovered" at age 17, whereupon she immediately began modeling.  From 1984 to 1996, she appeared frequently in Sports Illustrated swimsuit editions.  At the same time, Ireland played small roles in largely forgettable sitcoms and starred in various poorly-received movies

Entrance to hucksterdom:  In 1993, as her modeling career began to wane, the entrepreneuse "designed" a line of socks for K-Mart.

Current company:  kathy ireland Worldwide®  (or, kiWW®)

Headquarters:  The website somewhat breathlessly informs us, "kiWW® maintains offices and design studios in Honolulu, Hawaii, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, kathy ireland Worldwide maintains Head Quarters in Rancho Mirage,CA."  

Slogan:  "...finding solutions for families, especially busy moms."™  The quotation marks are apparently part of the trademarked slogan, suggesting Ireland, or somebody else, actually uttered the words; the ellipsis, one of numerous on the website, leaves us yearning to read the beginning of the statement.  (Elsewhere on the website, Ireland alarmingly puts "going to sleep" in quotation marks when dispensing wisdom to harried parents of insomniac children, casting a murderous, Godfather-esque cloud over her motherly advice.)

Products:  kiWW® stamps its name on an unsettling array of items: "furniture, flooring, decorative surfaces, lighting and accessories, window treatments, replacement windows, home office and entertainment, leather and microfiber, infant, youth and adult top of bed, bedding, candles, hand-painted fine porcelain, decorative shelving, apparel, fresh-cut flowers, skin-care for men and women, wall coverings, ceiling fans, mattresses, totes, hand bags, travel bags, frames, wall décor, clocks, Design It Yourself jewelry and crafting supplies, kitchen and bath cabinetry, infant furniture, Ready to Assemble (RTA), decorative shelving, fine jewelry, wigs and hair extensions,  real estate, vacation events, wedding program licenses, music and film licenses, publishing, greeting cards, Kathy is the author of six books."

Qualifications for promoting these items:  None expressed or implied.

Evidence of the "Designer" at Work:  In a video entitled "ki Home by Shaw Fall Flooring Days,"  a particularly haggard Ireland, clad in a white lab coat, observes and gesticulates as technicians subject rug samples to various tests; these illustrative scenes are interspersed with footage of Ireland hawking rugs to skeptical browsers in a carpet showroom.  

Above:  the "designer" feigns scrutiny of carpet samples.

Meta-endorsements:  Sometimes, in what CRABNOX dubs meta-endorsements, celebrities publicly announce support for other celebrities' products or services.  Overall, the star galaxy has reacted favorably to Ireland's endeavors.  "I think she is a hero, I really do," confesses former chart-topper Anita Pointer.  "She's so clever.  She's brilliant," gushes late fellow huckster Elizabeth Taylor.  Only '80s nighttime soap fixture Joan Van Ark seems reluctant to bestow such ecstatic praise, instead tendering a strictly fact-based appraisal of Ireland's accomplishments.  "For the women down at the Los Angeles Mission," Van Ark states mechanically, her countenance expressionless, "she has donated furniture."

Above:  A grinning Ireland, restrained by Liz Taylor's bloated claw, poses at a World AIDS Day photo-op.  

Representative Products:  Interior design rules, Ireland says, "are made to be broken."  She also reminds us that "your accessories tell a story about you to guests."  With that in mind, CRABNOX has selected three sample items from Ireland's collections for your consideration.

1.  "Brushed copper antique clock with coffee mug graphic"  

Story this product tells to your guests:  You purchase and enjoy furnishings that depict food and beverage items.
Interior design rule broken by this product:  Your decorating style should not emulate that of 1990s sitcom coffee shops.

2.  "Reef Reflections Decorative Accessory"

Story this product tells to your guests:  You let "the voices" tell you what to buy for your home.
Interior design rule broken by this product:  When selecting seaweed-motif objets, take care to avoid those that resemble manmade disasters like chemical plant explosions and ruptured oil tankers.

3.  "Sandy Retreat Table Lamp"
Story this product tells to your guests:  Your closet probably contains at least one pair of slacks embroidered with scores of tiny lobsters.
Interior design rule broken by this product:  Hideously painted beach furniture is not an aesthetically appealing decorative accent, even when rendered in miniature.

Gesture of humility to millions of paying customers:  Following the initiatives of important poet e.e. cummings and Grammy winner k.d. lang, Ireland does not capitilize her initials when they appear in her company's name.

Approximate earnings:  kiWW® raked in $1.4 billion of retail sales last year.  As the helmswoman of the empire, Ireland herself is thought to earn in excess of $10 million annually, nearly triple Linda Evangelista's fabled, but relatively piddling, $10,000 a day.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Betty White to Play All 4 Lead Roles in ‘Golden Girls’ Remake

The Betty White revival continues its unprecedented momentum with news that the star is reprising the role of Rose Nylund, her ditzy Golden Girls character, in the big screen remake of the ‘80s-‘90s TV hit.  Picking up five years after the sitcom left off, the still-untitled film, which started production last month, depicts the four friends as they move from their beloved house to an assisted living complex.  

In addition to renewing her role as Rose, White will also star as characters Blanche Devereaux, Dorothy Zbornak, and Sophia Petrillo, originally played by Rue McClanahan, Bea Arthur, and Estelle Getty, respectively.   

The film’s screenplay was completed in the late ‘90s, but, due the failing health and eventual deaths of three of the stars, a movie remake never seemed feasible and the script languished on the shelf until recently.  A studio executive explained, “Thanks to Betty’s popularity, the whole ‘80s moment pop culture is having, computers, and a few wigs, the Golden Girls movie became more than just a dream.”

The film is slated for fall 2011 release to maximize box office revenue and Oscar buzz.  Our source commented, “Betty’s one of the great actresses of our time.  We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but she may make Oscar history when she receives four best actress noms for four different the same film!”

Above:  an early scene in the upcoming Golden Girls film.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Product Label Analysis

Pictured here is label found on Spice Select's "BEEF Flavored BOUILLON CUBES".  We shall demonstrate the success of the package's design through an examination and analysis of the complex illustration seen on the front of the label.

The complexity of the label's design lies in its brilliantly devised depiction of several distinct periods of time within a single image. The illustrator has achieved the closest approximation of a moving image (e.g., a television ad) possible with a static, two-dimensional label illustration. The result is a narrative describing the entire process of consuming the bouillon cubes, from start to finish. Unlike a moving image or series of still images (e.g., a multi-panel ad), the bouillon cube illustration simultaneously presents four separate events or states that would normally occur over a period of perhaps ten or more minutes.

The normal preparation of bouillon cubes can be summarized by describing a linear sequence of events; for example: 1) foil removed from cube(s); 2) cube(s) added to preparation vessel; 3) finished gravy mixture added to serving vessel; 4) filled serving vessel garnished and added to table.

However, in the Spice Selects image, these four events occur in the same instant. In the image, three cubes remain in their foil wrappers, representing the state of the cubes after purchase and before consumption; the foil also ascribes a quality of newness to the cubes. However, in spite of being new and unwrapped, the cubes are already being put to use: they are in the process of tumbling (with tremendous speed, incidentally) toward a waiting vessel. But the vessel contains gravy that is already prepared and adding another cube to the mixture would unfavorably alter the taste; adding three would ruin it completely (the depiction of so many cubes, in such close proximity to the jubilant "75 Cubes" claim, is probably meant to evoke the bounty offered by this 10.5 ounce container). It is important to remark that the addition of these cubes to the existing mixture is not being shown as a attempt to improve the flavor of the mixture; note that the vessel is full with no traces of its having even been sampled. Furthermore, the gravy is already in a mug (serving vessel), not a saucepan (preparation vessel); that and the parsley sprig garnish underneath it imply that the gravy has been satisfactorily prepared and that the mug itself has already been presented for use on a dining table.

To attempt to explain this image as a depiction of a single moment would require creating a convoluted backstory. For instance: the consumer prepared some gravy and, apparently satisfied with the result, poured it into a mug; he placed a decorative sprig of parsley on the table and put the full mug on top of it; however, seconds later, the gravy still steaming and unsampled, he somehow determined the gravy was not satisfactorily prepared after all; he decided to add an astonishing three cubes to that 8-ounce mug of gravy (for which quantity just one cube is recommended by the label's instructions) but after removing the cubes from the package, failed to unwrap them; and now, in the image before us, we see the consumer's frenzied act of adding three unwrapped cubes to an already prepared and presented vessel of gravy (probably before the astonished eyes of other dinner guests, as an 8-ounce mug of gravy is too large a quantity to be consumed by the average diner).

Conversely, to regard the image as an overlapping series of separate events gives us a satisfactory result. With one quick glance, we witness the entire process of preparing gravy using Spice Select's product. From the metallic allure of fresh, unwrapped cubes to the promise of the rich flavor offered by the filled and garnished mug, the entire sequence is presented to us at once, which has the added benefit of implying ease and quickness of preparation. We can compare this simultaneous representation of temporally separate events to one of Picasso's Cubist paintings, wherein we might see the subject's face depicted from several different angles at once.

CRABNOX ARCHIVE: Easter Candy Sales Report

From the Crabnox archives (April 16, 2009)

Now that the Easter holiday has passed, marketing analysts are examining the season's best- and worst-selling candies. Today, CRABNOX will focus on a product introduced this year by the Palmer brand. A rare combination of the chocolatier's art and Freudian psychoanalytic theory, Palmer's "Baby Binks" is a hollow, figural bunny with gaping eye sockets. 

Designers of the sweet sought to combine the beloved taste of milk chocolate with Freud's classic theory of castration anxiety, represented by the absence of eyes. Although early brainstorming sessions predicted that an Easter candy with cerebral overtones ("the thinking man's treat") could become the runaway hit of the season, subsequent post-Easter focus group studies revealed that Baby Binks, with his metaphorically removed testicles, instilled feelings of fear in all male subjects. 

Currently, Palmer has no plans to resurrect the product next Easter.  For a limited time, the many that went unsold before the holiday can now be obtained at grocery and drug stores for as little as $0.54.

Below: the anxiety-provoking confection in and out of its packaging.