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Boba Fett Is a Woman Named Roberta, and Other Vintage Star Wars Theories

No, Boba Fett was a good guy! And maybe not a guy at all!

Don’t think that not having an internet kept Star Wars fans of the past from speculating wildly — or from penning the ink-on-paper equivalent of mindless clickbait. Here, from the December 1980 issue of Fantastic Films magazine, are the best guesses about the upcoming Episode VI (then still known as Revenge of the Jedi) from Bill Hays’s article “Speculation Concerning the Future History of the Continuing Star Wars Saga.”

Besides mistaking The Empire Strikes Back for a new baseline instead of a flukish high-water mark, and also presuming Lucas cared anywhere near as much as Fantastic Films readers did, Hays believed the following:

  • Darth Vader is not Luke’s father. Instead, he and Luke are clones of another Jedi named Skywalker.
  • The Millennium Falcon? “Designed by Jedi scientists as Skywalker’s private warship, to protect his cover identity as a smuggler.”
  • “Is Obi-Wan supposed to be Jesus Christ? Yes and no.”
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi is the first clone of a specimen named O.B. Think about it: O.B.1.
  • “Better yet, tell me what Jedi stands for. In Latin, the plural of Jesus would be Jesi, but that’s too obvious. If the early Christians cloned Jesus to preserve his unique DNA, they might have built the Jesus Eugenics Development Institute.”
  • Bounty hunter Boba Fett isn’t just a clone…Boba Fett’s a she-clone. “Boba could be a family nickname for Roberta.”
  • “Luke agonizes that he could make [Leia] love him by planting the suggestion in her mind.”
  • Jabba the Hutt and his pirate friends team up with the Rebel Alliance.
  • The climax: “The Rebels don’t have enough ships to defeat the Imperial fleet. Han arrives at the crucial moment, leading the pirates and all the Jedis that Boba Fett only pretended to kill, and shows us Kenner’s new line of space toys for that Christmas.”

    Here’s one really good question, though.

Of course, all of Hays’s speculation pales next to the climax Lucas actually envisioned: As Lando and some fish-faced thing re-enact the last half-hour of Star Wars, a sleepy-eyed Han Solo beats up stormtroopers with some teddy bears.

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A Leia as Cold as Hoth: Marvel Reveals the Empire Strikes Back That Wasn’t

Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from thrift stores, estate sales, and flea markets.

The Empire Strikes Back: A Marvel Super Special Magazine

Author: Archie Goodwin, words; Al Williamson and Carlos Garzon, art
Date: 1980
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Representative Quote: “You have all the breeding of a Bantha…but not as much class!”

The biggest thing that George Lucas forgot in the 1990s and ’00s? That moviemaking is intensely collaborative, and that the more power one writer/director/producer grips the more quality slips through his or her fingers. As the ’70s ended, Lucas wasn’t gripping too hard, yet, and he and his team put together The Empire Strikes Back, the finest and most beautiful fantasy film of the blockbuster era. But good lord were those collaborators key to it, as we can see from this Marvel comics adaptation of Empire.

Archie Goodwin and his team weren’t exactly adapting the film that hit theaters in 1980. It didn’t exist yet. Instead, like the authors of novelizations, they worked from early scripts and still photos — and they ran with moments that, on set, the actors and director improved.

Consider this key exchange from the Cloud City carbon-freeze chamber: 

Famously, David Prowse, the actor in the Darth Vader suit, did not know during filming that Vader would turn out to be Luke’s father. The Sith Lord’s dialogue was dubbed in by James Earl Jones later. And judging by the emphasis on the line in this panel, it appears that nobody at Marvel actually heard it, either:

“Seriously. I am, Luke! Really! I mean it!”

In 1997, Lucas released his “Special Editions” of the original Star Wars films. In one dopey way, he actually made the movie of The Empire Strikes Back more like the comic:

The art throughout the comic is fantastic, often extending the visions that film only suggested. (Glynis Wein handled the four-color coloring, working some miracles.) 

But I’m not sure what Young Snowbilly Lucas was doing hanging around the elegant spires of Bespin:

The most revealing thing in Marvel’s adaptation is just how fortunate we are that director Irvin Kershner and stars Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford didn’t always honor the script (by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan). 

Han and Leia’s screwball sniping in the film’s first act is better acted than it is written — but could any performers have sold the dialogue that Goodwin and company had to work with? 

Here, Han reveals the angry-bro prickishness that might explain how he got the name “Solo”:

Moments later, Han tries the cheapest move of all: calling the woman who won’t swoon for him frigid.

What is it with Lucas’s men comparing women to the geological features of whatever planet they’re on? You’re like ice, you’re not like sand. 

But we can’t blame all of the adaptation’s occasional backwardness on Lucas and his screenwriters. Check out Goodwin’s narration describing Leia’s impulsive decision in the rebel base’s medical bay:

 

Smooching your brother to prove a point to the guy who negs you? That’s just what leaders do!

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‘Go Out at Least Once With Any Man Who Asks’: Cosmo’s 1971 Advice for the Liberated Woman

Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from thrift stores, estate sales, and flea markets.

Cosmopolitan’s Hangup Handbook

Date: 1971
Publisher: Cosmopolitan Books
Discovered at: Found by a friend at some San Francisco junk sale

The Cover Promises: That this book looks like if Prince designed the set of The Dating Game.

Representative Quotes:

Do make passes at men who wear glasses. Nearsighted men see you through a nice blurry haze, especially when their glasses are off. What’s nice is that when they say you look like Candy Bergen, they mean it. (page 16)

The married man, besides being older, more experienced, more knowledgeable about women, can also give a girl a sense of being wanted, cherished, that she can’t always get from a single man! (page 104)

Published just six years into the culture-shifting reign of Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown, the Hangup Handbook offers a marvelous portrait of a time in many ways quite like ours: American women suddenly had greater freedom than ever before, but exercising that freedom took much courage. Cosmo endeavored to light the way, and much of this beefy hardcover anthology is devoted to sensible progressive advice. There’s lots of frank talk about women’s liberation, and the magazine’s writers encourage readers to pursue sexual pleasure, to be assertive at work and in love, and not to be limited by the expectations of the country around them.

But then there’s the bonkers stuff. From the chapter “How to Get Married If You’re Over Thirty,” here are tips on how to meet a man. (Note I did not specify “meet an available man.”)

Go out at least once with any man who asks. Beasts may have beautiful friends.

Join a therapy group. There are many different kinds to choose from, and it’s a great way to get close to people.

Join a political club. Even a women’s group can prove helpful as you chum with married ladies. Be so marvelous they invite you home for dinner (where you’ll meet husbands and husband-friends!).

What’s tragic is that so many of these suggestions might improve the life of a lonely person — but Cosmo just can’t see any benefits unrelated to man-landing:

Take a course in computing, stock brokering, applied economics, law…any area that attracts more men than women. Many of the “possibles” will be younger than you, but they’re very possibly for you, baby! While studying, you may get so handy with the IBM 360 or commodity-trading that a new job will result in a field abounding with men.

(Be right back, I’m googling for .gifs of Peggy Olson barfing.)

In short, most of the Handbook‘s advice for meeting a fellow is all about inserting yourself into their world just long enough to snag one.

If you’re a good saleswoman (you know whether you are), sell cars; men usually buy them.

Sometimes that advice gets hilariously impractical:

Buy a small sailboat (what are you saving for, a drizzly day? It’s raining now, isn’t it?) and join a boating group. Learn to play bridge or chess. Chess clubs are full of good intellectual men, but they’re also good at the game. So you must be if you expect to win anything! 

That last tip is made even more confounding by Cosmo‘s dishy house style. Is the “game” that chess-club men are good at seduction — or chess?

Either way, a man who has been met (and is not a beast) is a man who must be married. As Cosmo puts it, that doesn’t mean falling in love and sharing yourself with him. That means proving to him you would be a great wife. Here’s how:

Minimize your problems, but be genuinely caring about his. Never cry that you’re flat-out broke. Don’t whimper about chapped hands or chills or fever every second time you see him. You care about his health though; worry about his cough, feed him vitamins. Men love (they always did and still do) the nurse instinct in women.

The good news? In ’71, Cosmo understood how miserable that sounded. The Handbook adds,

(Yes, dear, it’s still [a] double standard all the way at this stage of the game…he is a valuable prize, and “equality” in problem-discussing may come to you after you’re married.)

Other habits to develop that you might want to renegotiate immediately after the honeymoon:

If you’re awful in the mornings and he’s a lark, force yourself to seem cheerful.

Send thoughtful, inexpensive presents (his favorite Hungarian sausage).

Never complain about the heat or cold; you’re the girl who adores walking in the rain, frisking in the snow. Accept wrecked shoes and other mishaps with gracious equanimity, especially if he did the damage.

Don’t be afraid to let him see you cry every two or three months, then be easily comforted, quick to cheer up.

Then, once the wedding bells ring, you and your chess-master husband can jaunt off in your sailboat, munching sausage and charting a course toward equality!

And if you’re worried that all this man-pandering has put you at odds with the movement, well, Cosmo has a quiz for you:

 

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Here’s the Time Captain America and Iron Man Fought a Secret War Against Some Chairs

Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from thrift stores, estate sales, and flea markets.

Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars Coloring Activity Book

Authors: David Anthony Kraft (story), Carlos Garzon (pencils), Jim Mooney (inking)

Date: 1984
Publisher: Marvel Books
Discovered at: East Village Thrift Shop, 186 Second Ave

The Cover Promises: Thrilling battles with guns, turrets, Spidey, Kang — and all sorts of other excitement not to be found in the book itself.

Representative Quote: “Doctor Doom is a super smart evil scientist! His evil friend, Magneto, has the power to control magnetism!”

Right now, in 2015, the Marvel comics universe is caught up in its third secret war, this time a crossover event of daring density and complexity brought on after an evil alt-reality teen Reed Richards helped crash one dimension into another. (It’s confusing, but it’s much more satisfying than the way Twentieth Century Fox’s Fantastic Four movie just crashed itself into the very idea of Reed Richards.)

In the early Eighties, at the time of the first Secret War, Marvel still bothered publishing for kids rather than for nostalgic adults who prefer their superhero comics incomprehensible to people who haven’t read all four decades of backstory. In the first scene of any comic, Marvel heroes tended to announce their names, their power sets, and their motivations. That helpfulness leaked down even into ancillary products. So, helpfully, after villains Doctor Doom and Magneto introduce themselves in the Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars coloring book, the duo brings readers up to speed on their evil plan…

…while on a leisurely couples’ horseback trip, presumably arranged by some Latverian concierge.

Then, to drive the point home, comes this page:

I appreciate that Marvel took the time to let kids know, twice, what Doom and Magneto’s powers are.

But there’s some mysteries the text on this page doesn’t clear up: Why has Doom become tiny and ascended to heaven? What parents want their children to be coloring horses’ asses? And why is Oktoberfest Sam Elliott pointing so urgently toward Magneto’s armpit?

Also unclear: What exactly Doom and Magneto’s plan is. Step one seems to involve Magneto moonwalking to the United Nations:

What color do you think kids chose for the mystery street puddle at the villain’s feet?

So, yes, the quality control wasn’t especially high in Marvel’s coloring-book department. Nothing in the story makes much sense, right down to why Magneto, one of Marvel’s most brilliant mutant bad guys, would so gladly serve as Doom’s second.

On the next page, Magneto issues the vaguest of threats to the nations of the world, which is usually not the first move you would think to make in what’s supposed to be a secret war.

Also, like that mustachioed fellow a couple pages back, the U.N. member nations seem most freaked out by Magneto’s armpit.

“But wait!” you might be saying. “This is Marvel comics! Isn’t there some action?”

Well, face front, true believers! Captain America and Iron Man have arrived — but only to face their greatest menace:

Chairs! Note that the perspective, here, is from the crotch of Iron Man, whose metal suit proves surprisingly curvy where the upper thigh meets the buttocks.

Fortunately, Iron Man is not just some sexy-canned tin soldier. He, too, has power over office furniture:

That’s the peak of the drama in the Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars coloring book. The epic chair battle is followed by a page parodying United Nations bureaucracy:

And a page where Captain America pretends that his best bet to save the world is to indulge in freaky man-machine sex with his own Turbo Bike.

Somehow, the heroes prove victorious. They corral the villains and do the smartest thing you possibly could do with them: put the master of magnetism behind iron bars.

Also, do Captain America and Iron Man now share some hive-mind that makes them speak the same words from different mouths? Maybe that is part of Doom’s plan that will pay off in the future?

Finally, here’s a bonus page, where two adults in costumes with lovingly detailed crotches send a message of intense friendship in language only kids can understand. Maybe that‘s the actual Secret War?

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Gape at the Dawn of Gamer-Bro Sexism With 1983’s ‘Vidiot’ Magazine

Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from thrift stores, estate sales, and flea markets. (And, in this case, www.archive.org.)

Vidiot magazine

Date: 1982–1983

Publisher: Creem

Discovered at: Archive.org

The Cover Promises: “The magazine of video lunacy!” Also, come Christmas ’83, you’re just going to love Atari’s E.T.

Representative Quote:

One popular method of picking up girls at the arcade is by zeroing in on a filly having trouble with your favorite game….After she triples her score, you can bet it’ll be Suckface City from there on in!

The good news, I guess, is that the 1983 Vidiot article “Arcade Macho: Pick Up or Shut Up,” seems in part to have been intended as parody. Its filly-dazzling advice includes nonsense like scowling as you enter the arcade, burping after chugging a can of soda, and removing all gold chains and punk-rock T-shirts, as they aren’t manly. The burping is key, the piece claims, immediately upon meeting a woman: “She’ll feel that inner glow of security knowing that a Real Man is present.”

Such satire, of course, might be confusing for the kids who actually bought Vidiot, the impossibly Eighties magazine that brought Creem into the Atari age. Early on in the piece, Vidiot lays this on its audience of horny young Pac-freaks:

Remember the law of Supply and Demand: I demand that you supply me with as many women as I desire. You gotta let the girls know who’s boss, plain and direct.

The piece was probably just an excuse to justify this photo and caption:

The joke might be funnier if it didn’t sound exactly like the advice of pickup bros from then and now. If we’re charitable and assume that Vidiot was lampooning the sexist assumptions some early male gamers might have had about their female counterparts, we must toast the piece for its prescience: It reads exactly like today’s Reddit threads.

Is there a literary term for satire that is indistinguishable from what it’s satirizing?

And it’s hard to stick up for Vidiot‘s burlesque of arcade sexism when it also ran photos like this:

How did they miss the joke that he’s literally playing Moon Patrol? One-handed, even?

Ass was dear to the Vidiot readership:

This is where a young Tom Six got the idea for Human Centipede.

Don’t mistake the magazine for a straight-up strokebook. Most of its pages were filled with somewhat serious coverage of arcade games and early home systems, like Atari and ColecoVision. But that laddish tone worked its way into much of the copy.

Here, Vidiot implies Ms. Pac-Man gets around, pops pills, and eats too much:.

The Creem really comes through, there. I defy you ever to listen to the Velvet Underground’s “Sister Ray” again without thinking of Ms. Pac-Man.

Also, Pinky the ghost is “fey”? Maybe he (he?) should master the art of soda-burps.

Elsewhere, writing up the Popeye coin-op, Vidiot finds common cause with the Gamer-Gaters of today: You know what drives poor ol’ Bluto to violence?

Olive Oyl.

Sometimes, Vidiot seemed uncertain just how to fills its pages. What else could explain their choice to run this lengthy pinball-is-like-doin’-it joke as a cutline to a press still from Happy Days?

Creem was a lively, let-it-blurt rock mag of legend. Some Vidiot photoshoots make it clear this was coming from the same scene.

Issues available over at the great Archive.org site boast photos of punk and new wave stalwarts posing with Asteroids and Pac-Man and other machines: Look for Blondie, David Johansen, and more.

Here are some of Vidiot‘s other big gets:

 

 

Oh, look: After making himself a soul man with the Blues Brothers, Aykroyd '83 was making a play for Run-D.M.C.
Oh, look: After making himself a soul man with the Blues Brothers, Aykroyd ’83 was making a play for Run-D.M.C.

Creem enjoyed the reputation of a badass rock integrity, especially in its review pages.

Vidiot, sadly, was a different beast, one that seems to have been willing to do what it had to do to keep the creators it covers happy.

Just like the game magazines of today, Vidiot was totally willing to give big releases from the major publishers much too much benefit of the doubt.

From Vidiot‘s preview piece on Atari’s E.T., the most notorious flop in videogame history:

“That seems to be the only flaw with an otherwise A-1 game.” Lester Bangs weeps!

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“When Was the Last Time I Made Passionate Love to my Wife?” and Other Inspirational Questions for Husbands

Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from thrift stores, estate sales, and flea markets.

Especially for Husbands: When Was the Last Time . . .

Author: Michael A. Campion, PhD; photos by Wilmer Zehr Date: 1978 Publisher: Bethany Fellowship Press, Minneapolis Discovered at: Salvation Army, Salinas, California

Representative Quotes:

“When was the last time . . . I ate dinner with my family?” “When was the last time . . . I made passionate love to my wife?” “When was the last time . . . I remembered my wife’s birthday and anniversary?”

“Let’s be real men and take loving, positive authority over our families,” writes Michael A. Campion in his daft inspirational “self-improvement plan” Especially for Husbands, a book that assumes American men have been so blithe for so long that it would take serious contemplation for them to recall the last time they even remembered a birthday.

Campion doesn’t push the matter to, say, “purchase a gift for her birthday” or “try to mention an anniversary on the day of that anniversary.” Instead, he’s just asking simple, depressing questions, like he’s the Socrates of terrible marriages. He encourages the husbands — presumably given this book by their wives — to ask themselves, “When was the last time . . . I fixed a meal?”

And then he’s on to the next question: “When was the last time . . . I listened?”

Or: “When was the last time . . .

First, yes, that is the actual photo that accompanies this question. And, second, obviously, the last time you told your wife this was in the throes of that passionate lovemaking.

That’s about all the book has to offer. Page after page of tragic “When was the last time?” questions accompanied by photos that stand as chilling reminders of Carter-era malaise.

“When was the last time . . .

Wait, that kid has never seen that man before, has he?

“When was the last time . . .

This does imply that the moments when a husband accepts his wife are the rare exception, right?

Here’s one where the man seems truly to be seizing some of that loving authority.

“When was the last time . . .

See, I would have thought a man should share something like that when she’s in a position to talk.

Speaking of women down on their knees: “When was the last time . . .

“As the haloed authority figure in this house, I demand that you assume your shadowed and supplicant conversation pose.”

“When was the last time . . .

The best test of whether a kiss is pure or not: Just how big an appliance can you squeeze between the kissers?

“When was the last time . . .

Hey, $20 is just enough for your wife to bribe a jewelry-counter employee for a chance to touch some nice things for once.

“When was the last time . . .

Seriously, I think the author is making a joke about woman drivers. Also, he seems to believe men once possessed the unsettling ability to vomit history.

And, finally, “When was the last time . . .

Gather round, kids, and let us show you the hot and heavy beauty of marital love!

——

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In 1968, 16 Magazine Went on a ‘Dream Day With Jim Morrison’ Plus: Win Davy Jones’s Puppy!

Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales, and flea markets.

16 Magazine

Date: May 1968
The Cover Promises: That “Davy” is enough to tip off any reasonable person that you mean Davy Jones

Representative Quotes:

  • “Your heart beats a mile a minute and you can’t help feeling absolutely super. Of all the vast multitude of Monkees fans, you are the chosen one who is about to spend untold heavenly hours in the presence of the four most wonderful guys in the world — Davy, Peter, Micky and Mike!”
  • “Just by the way Jim [Morrison] looks at things, you know he is ‘feeling’ them with his eyes.”

Dreamsville! It’s 1968, and you — lucky-ducky you! — write for 16 magazine.

That means you’ve sipped Cokes with the Cowsills and Pepsis with Peter Noone! You hated watching those Beatles grow aloof, but in a Monkee profile you were privileged to write, “You have ascended from Monkee-land to Monkee-heaven. After all, it isn’t every day that a girl has two of the world’s top teen idols quarreling over which one she will lunch with!”

You understand that second-person address allows you to make readers feel as special as you do!

But what in your experience can prepare you for this next assignment, “My Dream Day With Jim Morrison”?

After meeting you at LAX in his red Mustang, the Doors dreamboat spirits you to a “groovy little tacos stand” off the Sunset Strip and then off to the Hollywood Hills to look at furniture, where things get spiritual:

Gently, he takes your hand and, with his hand over yours, you both touch the carvings and texture of the furniture. You’re amazed at this marvelous new experience and think how thrilling it is to be able to hear and talk without the use of words.

The result?

You feel very special!

After that, it’s barbecue, poolside, in Hollywood. Morrison strips down and treats you to his “super swimming style.” What happens next transcends even Monkee-heaven.

He lifts himself upon the edge of the pool and shakes his head — looking like a great, damp young lion.

Still shaken, you watch the sunset on a blanket and discuss the compatibility of your star signs. He doesn’t talk much, and you enjoy many “comfortable silences.” He takes you to a recording session, and you know the song’s a hit, and you wonder of the world, “They’ll know his songs, but can they ever know Jim?”

Sadly, you soon must part from this poet/lion/mental-feeler-of-furniture. After your return you to the terrestrial sphere, you take what you’ve discovered, and you share of it what you can.

You write this conclusion.

There’s a couple key disquieting facts you’ve almost certainly noticed about Jim Morrison on your day together, facts that might help the world to know Jim. But even if you divulged them, would the world truly understand? You opt not to mention them, but that’s OK. Nobody will ever know.

Fortunately for the writers at 16, by 1968 unruly teen idols were the exception. Unlike Morrison, the Monkees were knowable.

And they took letters.

And the “one and only, delightfully delicious Davy Jones” wants to give you a puppy.

Mostly, 16 sticks to housebroken stars like Sonny & Cher, who for reasons of hilarity are invited to share their wisdom in an advice column. 16 splits the page into separate “Dear Sonny” and “Dear Cher” sections. Can you guess which star got this question?

I have a problem. I am very tall and my boyfriend is quite short. When we go to dances together, I think we look funny. My boy friend doesn’t seem to mind at all, but it embarrasses me to the point of tears.

Speaking of surprises, writing a letter to 16‘s Dreamsville contest could win you one of the following:

Nimoy’s habit of giving “astral surprises” inspired the invention of those sunglasses that let you see behind you.

Beatlemania still lingered, but it’s only gentle-eyed Paul McCartney who gets a pinup. Otherwise, the less hunky Beatles ’68 only turn up in party photos like this one. How many failing relationships can you spot?

Shocking Detail: Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Archie Bell, and the Supremes each scored some of the top hits of 1968, but the Supremes are the only black performers mentioned in 16 at all.

And that’s just on the letters page.

Even there, the 16 editors get distracted by honky hotties.

This indignity is hardly the worst that white people have inflicted upon the Supremes.

Highlight: Recent ’68 records recommended by gossip columnist GeeGee:

  • Axis: Bold as Love, the Jimi Hendrix Experience
  • Something Else, the Kinks
  • The Best of Herman’s Hermits, Vol. III
  • Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy, Leonard Nimoy

Also, there’s this touching letter.

That’s the Sixties, right there. You are the chosen one. You can save Star Trek. You can stop the war. Black people were all right, just so long as they stood next to Paul McCartney. Souls like Jim Morrison’s groove untroubled on a plane of pure beauty and being.

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‘Are You Prejudiced?’ Asked Faith ‘n Stuff Magazine in 1994. Take the Quiz and See!

Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from thrift stores, estate sales, and flea markets.

Faith ‘n Stuff: The Magazine for Kids

Date: September/October 1994
Publisher: Guideposts

The Cover Promises: The Protestant youth of America, photographed at the last possible moment before the obesity crisis kicked in.

Representative Quotes:

Sometimes prejudiced people do terrible things, like when the Nazis in Germany — convinced that they were the supreme race — killed millions of Jews during the Holocaust.

 

A well-intentioned kids’ magazine mascotted by a cartoon turtle who is forever quoting Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, Faith ‘n Stuff is every bit as blasé as its name suggests. Each issue was crammed full of faith and, I dunno, some stuff, usually an interview with a Christian baseball player or a 300-word profile of a kid who is writing his own thesaurus (Russ Moore, on page 21).

Here’s that turtle — and the magazine’s idea of cool:

Can you imagine how excited the edit staff behind that shot must have been when PT Cruisers came out?

To their credit, the editors attempted to deal with some of the real-world problems facing good Christian kids in the 1990s, as in this issue’s article on prejudice, January ’94’s “When to Tattle,” or “How to Handle Bullies” from July/August of 1992, the issue that has the single greatest cover of any magazine ever:

(Nowhere in that article does anyone suggest that the reason Faith ‘n Stuff readers get bullied might be the very fact that they’re seen reading Faith ‘n Stuff.)

The September/October ’94 issue takes a hard look at “prejudice.” Here’s what kids are not supposed to be like:

The next page reveals that all God’s children contain surprises:

Here, the lesson is driven home:

The moral: Don’t pre-judge people, except maybe blonde racists from Michigan.

In the piece, Faith ‘n Stuff writer Alyce Mitchem Jenkins lays out the scope of the problem of American prejudice:

“Kids pre-judge other kids because they are tall or short or fat or skinny or wear glasses or have buck teeth. Racial prejudice is like this — like when black kids won’t let white kids play on their teams or white kids won’t invite Asians to their parties.”

Seriously, her first example of racial prejudice is of black kids making life miserable for white kids, who she seems to think desperately need their own Jackie Robinson.

Then Faith ‘n Stuff reminds us why magazines were invented in the first place: to distract us with entirely unscientific quizzes designed to show us how awful we are.

Worth noting here:

  • The polite euphemism “kids who are good at singing.”
  • The ahead-of-the-curve acknowledgement that muttering about work-hating welfare recipients is itself closely related to racism
  • The weird, half-disguised plea for Faith ‘n Stuff readers to consider maybe — just maybe — befriending the pastor’s dumb kid.

Even Faith ‘n Stuff itself sometimes accidentally demonstrated how hard it is not to judge based on a person’s appearance. Remember that issue up above with the amazing cover depicting indentured kids forced into the construction of the Sandwich of Babel?

From that issue, here’s Faith ‘n Stuff‘s idea of a bully:

I’m surprised there isn’t a thought balloon exclaiming, “As soon as those nerds get that olive up there, that giant sandwich will be all mine!”

 

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Seriously, This ’67 Wilton Cake-Decorating Catalog Will Break Your Heart

Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from thrift stores, estate sales, and flea markets.

Cake and Food Decorating Ideas by Wilton

Date: 1967
Publisher: Wilton Industries
Discovered At: Bay Area Free Book Exchange, El Cerrito, California

The Cover Promises: Lit-up head-shop castle cakes prove even Mom is somewhat interested in tripping.

Representative Quote:

You may light your castle by running your wire and sockets to each tower before icing. No matter how you do it, all the children young and old will love you for your new creation in icing.

Yes, this lavish and goofy catalog has a good chance of getting you choked up, and not just at the thought of the homemakers of the 1960s smearing frosting over extension cords in the hope that this, at last, will win back the love of their pop-mad children.

But before we get to its surprising pathos, let’s marvel at its delights. First, take a closer look at the great castle-brick typesetting on its cover:

Where else have we seen that?

And before anything else, let’s enjoy some of the guide’s choicest desserts. Wilton reminds us that you can please anyone with a cake. What other treat is perfect for both circus clowns and Ivy Leaguers?

For ballerinas or — well, what is that, exactly?

Hey, cats on the train tracks in a pumpkin patch deserve cake just as much as any Yalie!

Anyway, like all craft guides, the Wilton cake-decorating catalog is filled with beautiful lies:

Whipping up a from-scratch cake into full-on Liberace glory is easy? It’s common for crafting guides from the Sixties to appear peculiarly ambitious to us today, now that women have secured the right to seek careers — and the economy has turned so mean that they all pretty much have to. Who has time to gild piano cakes?

Wilton seems to promise that you can create dessert miracles in three easy steps. See what a snap it is to make the tastiest of crime scenes?

Wilton believed that its readers’ schedules were wide-open enough that they could also set themselves to creating the only works of art more impermanent than cakes:

Of course, things were already changing in the Sixties. Women’s evolving role in American life is a theme of some Wilton centerpieces. Here, the company honors female college students:

Wilton could be timely, as we see when the mop tops become cake tops:

OK, that’s not really the Beatles. It’s their unlicensed plastic equivalent — the one that’s not the Monkees. That band name — the Go-Go Swingers — suggests that Wilton believed rock ‘n’ roll perhaps typified a culture spinning out of control. That theory is confirmed by the company’s idea of a “typical pose” for a teen girl:

That figure could work as a topper today, maybe, if you were to bake a cake for your favorite professional webcammer.

And before we get to the heartbreaking stuff, can we toast one aspect of Sixties culture that is absolutely superior to today’s? Dancing Dessert Batman remains the best of all Batmen:

But the 1960s wasn’t all go-go-swinging superheroes! Jolly as the Wilton catalog is, it offers poignant evidence of its decade’s tragic upheavals. Consider these cake-topping servicemen and their brides:

Note the addendum: “We will have individual Marine, Navy, and Army figures available in July, 1967 for going away Service Men or welcome back Service Men party cakes.”

Wilton’s promise suggests that there had already been terrific demand for armed forces cake-toppers — and that the company, so attuned to the cheery messages that Middle America likes to send itself, was scrambling to meet this new need. Suddenly, as the draft kicked into high gear, much of Wilton’s cake-making audience found itself needing to commemorate a new and terrifying event: the government marching their sons off to fight in the jungle for reasons nobody could quite explain. How could so many millions of families face such fear and loss?

The pleasant business of cake-making must have helped. Same goes for the rituals of carving cake, eating cake, maybe singing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.” But no amount of sugar and clever craftsmanship could hide what those boys and those families were facing. I would never wish more work upon the overburdened homemakers of the Sixties, but in this case it’s hard not to: If only everyone who ever whipped up one of these going-away cakes later had to plant those same servicemen figures on one saying “Welcome home.”

But enough heartbreak! Here’s a three-cake palate-cleanser: One for poodle-lovers, one for some kid who would grow up to program Nintendo’s Duck Hunt, and one for that random child you’ve just adopted!

 

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The ‘Morris vs. 1980’ Cat-Food Calendar Invented Ridiculous Cat-Photo Blogposts

Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from thrift stores, estate sales, and flea markets.

Morris vs. 1980: The 9-Lives Calendar

Publisher: 9-Lives Cat Food
Discovered at: Green House Antique Shop, Ruckersville, VA

The Cover Promises: Morris the Cat is a big fan of 1980 Best Picture nominee Raging Bull

Back in the Reagan years, Americans were happy to feed their pets whatever our grocery stores had on hand, plumping them up with filler grains, meat byproducts, and whatever else. The idea behind a brand like 9Lives seemed to be that cats are gonna die eight times anyway, so you may as well feed them this crap.

All that attention 9Lives failed to pay to its food was lavished instead on its advertising. For decades the company has employed the services of orange tabby spokescats it calls “Morris,” a character meant to be charmingly finicky — and whose blasé prickishness seems to have been copy-pasted onto Garfield:

The joke is that the cat’s an asshole.

So, by 1980, Morris had become celebrity enough for 9Lives to print up freebie calendars with prick-cat jokes in them, presumably with the understanding that any copies left over in ’81 could be used as protein in 9Lives catfood.

The calendar was just the thing for people who felt that they should be advertised to just one more time every single day of their year:

Month after month, Morris reminds you that there are only two things worth his attention: himself and 9Lives.

Silly humans, do not waste your cat’s time with slideshows — unless your slides happen to be as significant as cave paintings, the earliest images that humans ever felt moved to preserve.

Incidentally, here’s the kind of picture Morris does approve of: early cat selfies!

Fun challenge: Imagine how many different concepts you would have to explain to a cat to get it to understand that it was looking at a photograph of itself. Start with “time.”

But unlike Garfield’s and Marmaduke’s, Morris the Cat’s writers weren’t fully committed to the noble work of making joke after joke after the selfish horribleness of pets. Instead, they dared to get darker.

Here, Morris reveals that he’s probably not been fixed.

Here, Morris auditions for a role in Bull Durham in front of a ballplayer who has hanged himself.

And here Morris pretends he’s upbeat and unscared as he reads through the terrifying letters mailed to him by Son of Sam.

Sometimes, the photos and captions are simply confounding:

I mean, Morris would only feel the need to tell us he’s unrelated to a moose if Morris was worried we had begun to suspect!

But at heart Morris is proto-Garfield, insulting the lonely, troubled humans who dress up to impress him:

You know what? If our cats hate us that much, maybe we should feed them 9Lives calendar meat.