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May 25th, 2005


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04:08 am - pits and bieces
000. Mr. Abbie has curled himself up in the laundry basket and is happily snuffling away. He is sleeping off a feast of lobster and scallops from, appropriately enough, Kitty's Restaurant. I believe Martha is doing the same, but I know that when I climb into bed in a few minutes' time she will uncurl from the foot of the bed, walk up the side, and sit near the pillow and watch me sleep. Just when she senses I'm about to drift off she will headbutt my hand. This evening ritual has gone on for months now and I'm not sure what it all exactly means, but little Martha has been very good at making sure it happens night in, night out. So if it makes the little cat happy I'm perfectly fine letting her continue the tradition.

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.

(7 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


(Deleted comment)
From:subbes
Date:May 25th, 2005 11:35 pm (UTC)
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Like in "Eeerie, Indiana"?
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From:neddiheht
Date:May 25th, 2005 12:42 pm (UTC)
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It's easy, when you are used to Massachusetts roads, to forget that whoever designed our roads is nuts. Dealing with them everyday helps us ignore that, but Massachusetts roads are really crazy.
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From:invisibelle
Date:May 25th, 2005 02:28 pm (UTC)
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The headbutting is a sign of affection. This is ridiculously corny, but I learned it from my cat when I was a kid, and I now find myself doing it to people.
From:guxx
Date:May 25th, 2005 02:48 pm (UTC)

The facts on the smiley emoticon

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According to "A Brief History of the Smile" author Angus Trumble, What one might call the canonical smiley--the yellow disk with the upturned, crisply shaped mouth and the two black dots for eyes came into existence simultaneously in various places in the 1960s. But it was anticipated by very many kinds of graphic devices with a round shape and a similarly simplified face. Sunkist brand oranges, for example, had cardboard boxes printed with a logo in the 1930s that was very smileylike. - Source

Nevertheless, the smiley face as we know it today was invented in 1963 by Harvey Ball...and born again as a typewriter symbol in 1982 by Scott Fahlman. - Source.
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From:betweenstations
Date:May 25th, 2005 03:12 pm (UTC)
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Martha is a good cat.

My little stripey demon reminds me a bit of Martha: little, cute, dumb.
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From:luckimunki
Date:May 25th, 2005 06:17 pm (UTC)
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I saw that documentary in my Sociology of Gender course two semesters ago. Very interesting, indeed.

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