001. Hooray for PBS! I was able to watch a very fine documentary on Tupperware, of all things, the other night. Turns out such a mundane household product has a history full of intrigue and spectacle. The product itself was created by one Mr. Tupper of Central Massachusetts, but the marketing scheme of at-home parties was the brainchild a former door-to-door saleswoman by the name of Brownie Wise. As Mr. Tupper (whose first name I have conveniently forgotten) contented himself with the manufacturing side of things, Brownie took control of marketing, and provided post-WWII job opportunities for women, many of whom had been expected to just leave their wartime occupations and go right back to the kitchen. Buoyed by Tupperware's success, Brownie built a giant shrine to the marketing system in Florida, inviting the top sellers every year to a giant Jubilee convention, with themed spectacle, prize giveaways on a giant scale, and hearty renditions of the Tupperware song (which a certain Mr. Dave Barry did not, in fact, make up.) With her ceaseless cheerleading and excellent motivational skills, Brownie built a cult of personality out of the burping containers. The sellers and distributors loved her, and followed her faithfully through each sales year. However, Brownie and Mr. Tupper (who owned the company outright) began to grow apart, often clashing on how exactly to run the company. Finally, as Mr. Tupper considered selling the entire business, he let Brownie go. Fired her outright. She attempted to come back with a home-party cosmetics company, but the Tupperware sellers didn't follow. She'd lost them. And the new owners erased every trace of her influence, Soviet airbrush-style, from the company. Such drama for airtight containers!
010. The neat thing I noticed from the Tupperware documentary was evidence supporting the existence of the emoticon far before the advent of computers and the Internet. Yes, the emoticon. I'd known the sideways smiley predated 1990s electronic culture, as I can remember GAMES Magazine in the early 80s running a sidebar puzzle on "typewriter symbols" or somesuch where you had to guess what message was conveyed by a :-P and whatnot. They distinctly mentioned typewriters in the puzzle, which struck me as odd thinking back on it years later. However, the Tupperware documentary featured a quick shot of a typewritten newsletter column Brownie Wise had written to her sellers. The final line of her message read something like this: (And remember -- be Wise! :) She'd used a colon to help close a parenthetical statement, and there's no denying the message she was sending. I couldn't believe it. Really threw me for a loop. I wonder exactly how far back the sideways smiley goes now.
011. Oh, and an apology. I make a far better navigator than trip planner. I should've known better than to guide a new driver through Route 1A, in the dark, in the rain, on eastern Massachusetts roads that often don't have lanes in the first place. M., I'm sorry that happened. But I want to let you know you did a great job, in spite of the anxiety and monsoon. I'm proud of ya. You stood up to the Boston roads and won, and don't let the road tell you otherwise.