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The Consumer Category

We bring you the chic and unique, the best and most bizarre shopping offers both online and offline. We offer you tips on where to buy, and some of the less mainstream and crazy, individual and offbeat items on the internet. Anything that can be bought and sold can be featured here. And we love showcasing the best and worst art and design.

Annette Messager turned dead sparrows into art

Annette Messager sparrows

In 1971, Annette Messager was invited to participate in a show at Galerie Germain in Paris. She should come up with something to do with wool. She made a lamb’s wool jumper for a dead sparrow.

I found my voice as an artist when I stepped on a dead sparrow on a street in Paris in 1971. I didn’t know why, but I was sure this sparrow was important because it was something very fragile that was near me and my life. Like the people I love, these small birds were always around me, yet they remained strange and mysterious. So I picked up the sparrow, took it home and knit a wool wrap for it. Why? I can’t say. You want to do something and don’t know why – all you know is that you have no choice, that it’s a necessity.”

One dead sparrow in a hand-knitted jumper became part of a collection that the finder and artist Annette Messager in 1972 called ‘Les Pensionnaires’ (‘The Residents’).

Spotter: Flashbak

Posted: 17th, July 2019 | In: Key Posts, Strange But True, The Consumer | Comment


Animated green screen tattoos

Tattoo artist Lee Rowlett uses green screen tattoos that let you play videos on your skin. Look out for them on every celebrity and footballer who wants to secure a new branding deal…

Posted: 17th, July 2019 | In: Fashion, Technology, The Consumer | Comment


Passengers take a four-storey slide to the departure gate at Singapore’s Changi Airport

To Singapore’s Changi Airport, where passengers can zip down a four-storey tall slide to the departure gate. Everyone gets a go so long as they’ve spent S$10 (around £6) at the airport shops.

All airports should work like this. Or why don’t airlines try trapdoors to vacate the plane quickly and save more time? Call me RyanAir, I have ideas…

Image via Changi Airport

Posted: 8th, July 2019 | In: The Consumer | Comment


See every cover of the great MAD magazine – from 1952 to now

Mad magazine cover 1

On Doug Gilford’s Mad Cover Site – “a resource for collectors and fans of the world’s most important (ecch!) humor publication” – you can see every cover since the magazine’s 1952 debut. Alfred E. Neuman is, of course, ever present.

mad magazine vintage

Spotter: Flashbak


Posted: 5th, July 2019 | In: Books, The Consumer | Comment


A plea for mirrors and no more weed from Lee Scratch Perry

Lee Scratch Perry has politely requested his fans relent from giving him weed. He has plenty. If you must give anything, give mirrors. The fabled reggae star tweets:

Lee Scratch Perry

You know what’s coming don’t, you? Yep, mirrors being reclassified as a Class C drugs.

Posted: 15th, March 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, Music, The Consumer | Comment


Corbyn’s Blue Period: Laura Murray, Minted Aristocrats and a £50m Picasso

Corbyn Picasso

Gabriel Pogrund has huge news. A scoop! “EXCLUSIVE: The mystery of who sold Picasso’s “Child with a Dove” for £50M in 2013, one of the most expensive artworks ever, is today solved.” Who?! “It was the family of Laura Murray, Corbyn’s top aide, who also gifted her a £1.4m house. By me & @ShippersUnbound.”

A tale of minted former communists, nepotism, huge sums of cash, the randy Spanish goat and the man who would lead the nation. What a story this promises to be. A little aside before we tuck in: Laura Murray us being sued by Rachel Riley, co-presenter of ITV’s Countdown, for alleged libel. Now read on in the Times

Today it can be revealed that her family was behind the anonymous sale of one of the most expensive artworks in history, Pablo Picasso’s L’Enfant au Pigeon (Child with a Dove), which was sold for £50m in 2013. She also owns a share of a £1.3m north London property transferred to her by her mother, reportedly saving up to £500,000 in inheritance tax.

Murray is the daughter of Andrew Murray, 60, a key Corbyn adviser who comes from Scottish aristocracy and whose grandfather served as the imperial governor of Madras. He left the Communist Party after 40 years in 2016.


Who dares say socialism doesn’t pay? These people sound like a well-stocked elite. If we vote for them, do we all get to be their equals? Bread today – Picasso’s and pricey London pads tomorrow!

The Times adds:

Laura Murray, great-granddaughter of the 2nd Baron Aberconway, an Eton-educated Edwardian industrialist, and Lady Aberconway, his wife, who was bequeathed Picasso’s masterpiece by the art collector rumoured in the family to have been her lover, Samuel Courtauld. The Aberconway family’s decision to pull the work from public display at the Courtauld Gallery in London and put it up for sale through Christie’s, the auction house, in 2012 became a cause célèbre.

Get those Bullingdon Club application forms in the post. Corbyn and chums can yet be saved. If Picasso’s Blue Period is good enough for them, so too is Boris Johnson’s.

The identity of the seller was a mystery at the time, although speculation pointed to the branch of the family that still owns Baron Aberconway’s 5,000-acre estate in north Wales. In fact, the transaction was overseen by Laura Murray’s mother, Susan Michie, an academic, and her uncle, Jonathan Michie, an Oxford economist and university friend of Labour’s communications director, Seumas Milne. Both declined to comment.

But is it a scoop, really? In 2010, the Guardian told us:

The painting came to London in 1924 with Mrs RA Workman who was, along with her husband, a major collector of impressionist and post-impressionist art. She sold it a few years later to Samuel Courtauld, and on his death in 1947 he left it to his friend Lady Aberconway, and it had been in her family ever since.

The facts were known for years. And a quick look at a family tree could trace a line from the toff to the Trots. But the timing of the Times’ report is interesting.

Comment from Murray and the Labour Party features there none.

Posted: 10th, March 2019 | In: Money, Politicians, The Consumer | Comment


An Epic caveat to a book review on German author and war hero Ernst Jünger

Nigel Jones in the latest issue of @HistoryToday. Junger

“Totally normal caveat such as you might find in any normal book review,” tweets Richard Smyth. He points us to a book review by Nigel Jones in the latest issue of History Today. The subject is German author and war hero Ernst Jünger (29 March 1895 – 17 February 1998).

Spotter: Richard Smyth

Posted: 28th, February 2019 | In: Books, Key Posts, Reviews | Comment


Meghan Markle to dress ‘genderless’ baby in a suit

Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle will “break with tradition” and raise the young Prince “genderless”. So says the Daily Star. Meghan will do away with traditional macho frilly lace, broaches and knickerbockers, preferring to dress the young sire in something more masculine and yet also more feminine, like a smart business suit with complementary document wallet and sensible shoes.

The paper also notes that the royal nursery will be designed in “gender-neutral colours” of beige and grey from the corporate pallet.

Says one Royal watcher to Anorak: “It’s what Chairman Mao and Bill Gates would have wanted.”

Posted: 25th, February 2019 | In: Fashion, News, Royal Family, Tabloids | Comment


Pristine copy of first Super Mario Bros game sells for $100,150

To the attic! An unopened copy of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. original 1985 game has sold at auction for $100,150.

From the auction house:

“Beyond the artistic and historical significance of this game is its supreme state of preservation,” says Kenneth Thrower, co-founder and chief grader of Wata Games.

Due to its popularity, Nintendo reprinted Super Mario Bros. from 1985 to 1994 numerous times, resulting in 11 different box variations (according to this visual guide). The first two variations are “sticker sealed” copies that were only available in the New York and L.A. test market launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985 and 1986. Of all the sealed copies of Super Mario Bros., this is the only known “sticker sealed” copy and was certified by Wata Games with a Near Mint grade of 9.4 and a “Seal Rating” of A++.

“Not only are all of NES sticker sealed games extremely rare, but by their nature of not being sealed in shrink wrap they usually exhibit significant wear after more than 30 years,” Thrower said. “This game may be the condition census of all sticker sealed NES games known to exist.”

A group of collectors joined forces Feb. 6 to purchase the game, including some of the biggest names in video games and collectibles as a whole. The buyers include Jim Halperin, Founder and Co-Chairman of Heritage Auctions of Dallas, Texas; Zac Gieg, owner of Just Press Play Video Games in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Rich Lecce, renowned coin dealer, pioneering video game collector, and owner of Robert B. Lecce Numismatist Inc of Boca Raton, Florida.

“Super Mario Bros. is not only the most recognizable game of all time, it saved the video game industry in 1985,” said Wata Games President, Deniz Kahn. “In terms of rarity, popularity, and relevance to collectors, this game has it all. Mario is the most recognized fictional or non-fictional character in the world, more so than even Mickey Mouse. Super Mario Bros. launched the world’s largest game franchise and this copy is the only known sealed example from Nintendo’s test market release…

“Gieg called this example the equivalent of the valuable comic book, Action Comics #1. “This is first appearance of Superman of video games,” he said. “We all knew how hard it is to find an open copy of this version in nice condition, but to find one still sealed is truly something I thought I would never see, even after selling vintage video games for over 20 years”

Spotter: Heritage Auctions

Posted: 15th, February 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Technology, The Consumer | Comment


Katy Perry blackface shoes are racist

Katy Perry blackface shoes

You can see your face in Katy Perry’s shoes. Well, you can if you work as a black and White Minstrel. Perry’s shoes are no longer in store on account of them having a blackface design and so being based on racist caricatures.

Katy Perry Collections is not as woke as Katy Perry, and the offending footwear has been removed from sale. Did anyone buy the shoes?

“I’ve made several mistakes,” said Perry in 2017. “I won’t ever understand, but I can educate myself and that’s what I’m trying to do along the way.”

Mind your step as you go.

Posted: 12th, February 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, The Consumer | Comment


Walmart sells Hitler pillows

Hitler pillow walmart

Who wants to buy a pillow bearing the image of Hitler’s face and a swastika? People of Walmart do. The Fresno Bee:

When the Very Rev. Ryan Newman bought the pillow on walmart.com in November, he could see it featured large images of a bicycle and the Eiffel Tower, and the word “Paris.” What he didn’t see were Nazi party seals with swastikas, along with Hitler’s face on postage stamps with the German word “Reich” – referring to the Third Reich, the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945 – on the top near the pillow’s seams. The images cover several inches on each side.

Newman said he was dumbfounded, and then angry and upset.

“To me this is a symbol of hate,” he said. “This is a symbol of evil.”

Walmart were only following (online) orders:

A Walmart spokeswoman provided the following statement: “This pillow was listed by a third-party seller on our online marketplace and is in violation of our policy. We regularly scan our marketplace for these types of items, but, unfortunately, the offensive image wasn’t visible on the pillow’s photo and we were not aware of it until the customer reached out. We removed the item immediately and are reviewing the seller’s assortment.”

Anyone buy one and keep it?

Posted: 8th, February 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


A look around Roald Dahl’s Dylan Thomas-themed writing shed

In 1982 Roald Dahl, showed us inside his writing shed at his home in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, England. The shed was relocated to the Roald Dahl Museum. The desk – a board balanced on the arms of a tatty chair – we knew about. Dahl called the 6ft x 7ft hut his “little nest, my womb”. One thing we didn’t know: Dahl modelled his shed on Dylan Thomas’s own writing shed in Carmarthenshire, Wales. The BBC:

Although Dahl based the design of his hut on Thomas’s shed, there was one major difference – the lack of natural light. He often kept his curtains drawn (10) to block out the outside world and was dependant on an angle-poise lamp for light….

Dahl’s widow Felicity said: “He realised he had to have a space of his own in the garden away from the children and the noise and the general domesticity and he remembered that Dylan had felt the same.

“And so he went down to Wales to look at Dylan’s writing hut and, like everybody, fell in love with it.”

Built to the same proportions, with the same angled roof – the similarities could be a coincidence. But according to his widow it was built in a similar design by Dahl’s builder friend Wally Saunders, who the BFG was based on.

“He built it exactly to the same proportions as Dylan’s hut, the same roof, one skin of brick,” said Mrs Dahl. “Of course Dylan’s hut was a garage originally, whereas Roald had nothing, it was an empty space that he built on.”

Roald dahl writing shed

Spotter: Boing Boing

Posted: 1st, February 2019 | In: Books, Celebrities, Key Posts, News | Comment


Morrisons offer: 20p for a paper bag or 15p for a more environmentally friendly plastic bag?

plastic bag tax
Bag. 2012.3045.04. McDonald’s: Toy Story 2.

Morrisons is offering its customers the chance to buy a reusable paper bag. Prince: 20p. The supermarket chain is also offering a reusable plastic carrier bag. Cost: 15p. The offer runs for eight weeks. So you’ll all buy the more expensive bag one, right, because it’s more environmentally friendly to do so. Or not.

Waitrose is not currently introducing a paper bag because “it can take three times more energy to make a paper bag than a plastic one”. True. And – get this – the paper bag is made of paper, which gets wet and falls to bits. The durability of paper bags – ie: the lack of it – is why plastic bags were so popular and needed. A good plastic bag is so very hard to destroy – just look how long they can survive in the ocean.

The BBC notes:

The production of paper bags uses more energy and creates more CO2 emissions than the manufacture of plastic bags. But paper decomposes much more quickly, while plastic can remain part of the environment for hundreds of years, causing damage to animals and marine life.

Tim Worstall adds:

How many times do we need to reuse a bag for it to have as little resource use – and thus environmental effect – as just the one use of those thin single use plastic ones? Obviously enough, the single use that we’re told not to use has a value of one here. The bag for life must be reused 35 times. A bag for life from recycled plastic 84 times. A paper bag must be reused 43 times – yes, paper. A cotton bag 7,100 times and an organic cotton? 20,000.

The answer: grow everything yourselves and eat out. Careworn urbanites can eat actual ‘street food’ in streets, rather than street food in new restaurants. Or maybe not. Those street food Meccas are pretty polluted:

 Shocking report reveals that 95% of plastic polluting the world’s oceans comes from just TEN rivers including the Ganges and Niger. “More than half of the plastic waste that flows into the oceans comes from just five countries: China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.”

Five. How about 8?

Just eight countries in the region are responsible for about 63 percent of total plastic waste flowing into the oceans. Little of that junk has been exported by rich economies. Instead, it’s almost solely generated by Asia’s newly minted consumer classes, the vast majority of whom lack access to garbage collection, modern landfills and incineration. Any progress in reducing ocean plastic will have to start with them.

A boom in garbage is almost always the result of two related phenomena: urbanization and income growth. Rural dwellers moving to the city shift from buying unpackaged goods to buying stuff (especially food) wrapped in plastic. As their incomes rise, their purchases increase. That growth in consumption is almost never matched by expanded garbage collection and disposal. In typical low-income countries, less than half of all garbage is collected formally, and what little is picked up tends to end up in unregulated open dumps. In 2015, scientists estimated that as much as 88 percent of the waste generated in Vietnam is either littered or tossed into uncontained dumps. In China, the rate is about 77 percent. By comparison, the U.S. rate is 2 percent.

Every big city in developing Asia faces this problem. Jakarta’s waterways are choked with plastic trash. In Kuala Lumpur, instances of open dumping line the high-speed train route to the airport. On the outskirts of any Chinese city, loose plastic bags and instant-noodle cups litter every road’s shoulder. Much of this junk ends up in waterways — and, eventually, the ocean. One study found that eight of the 10 rivers conveying the most plastic waste into the oceans are in Asia. China’s Yangtze alone delivers 1.5 million metric tons of plastic to the Yellow Sea each year.

Paper bags and ready-made food is the answer. McDonald’s all round it is, then…

Posted: 28th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


The Cheese Label Museum

Cheese Museum Flashbak vintage labels

“This is my father’s collection of cheese labels from the 1940s and 50s,” says Londoner Julian Tysoe, whose mini museum can be seen on Flashbak. Julian’s father, John Jeremy ‘Gus’ Tysoe (26 August 1938 – 25 September 2016) also wrote letters to the great English animator Oliver Postage (Ivor the Engine, Noggin’s the Nog and more). They discussed chess, Tolkien, accountants and more.

My Father’s Collection of Cheese Labels from the 1940s and 50s

Posted: 26th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, The Consumer | Comment


Passenger turns her airport purgatory into a 1980s-style pop video

Tweeter @katiemgould kept her blood moving as she waited four hours for a plane by making this video to You Make My Dreams by Hall & Oates. The cat in the video is “my travel buddy Bowie”:

Posted: 11th, January 2019 | In: Music, Strange But True, The Consumer | Comment


Confessions of a Johnson & Johnson rectal thermometer tester

If you hate your job, think on. First buy a Johnson & Johnson rectal thermometer…

 

If You Think You Hate Your Job, You Need To Read This

dsds

 
When you’ve had an absolute “I hate my job” day, try this:
On your way home from work, stop at your pharmacy and go to the thermometer section. You will need to purchase a rectal thermometer made by Johnson and Johnson. Be very sure you get this brand. When you get home, lock your doors, draw the drapes, and disconnect the phone so you will not be disturbed during your therapy. Change to very comfortable clothing, such as a sweat suit and lie down on your bed. Open the package and remove the thermometer. Carefully place it on the bedside table so that it will not become chipped or broken. Take out the material that comes with the thermometer and read it. You will notice that in small print there is a statement:

“Every rectal thermometer made by Johnson and Johnson is personally tested”

Now close your eyes and repeat out loud five times: “I am so glad I do not work for quality control at the Johnson and Johnson Company”.

Have a nice day everyone and remember, there is always someone with a worse job than yours.

I thought they all worked for RyanAir?

Spotter: TheMetaPicturef

Posted: 7th, December 2018 | In: Money, The Consumer | Comment


Sweden campaigns for standardised sex toys as hospital cases of objects stuck up rectums grows

sex toy

 

The Swedish Standard institute is working towards increased security for users of sex toys. Anna Sjögren, project manager at SIS, Swedish Standards Institute, points to the peril of ineffective sex toys. The press release is informative:

The new standardization committee is working on a proposal for a global standard that will be sent to the ISO standardization organization hoping more countries will participate. The standard will benefit both consumers, manufacturers, retailers and purchasing managers.

Today there are no standards that directly affect the design or quality assurance of this kind of products, either in Sweden or internationally. If the product has a battery, that particular part falls under the EU Low Voltage Directive, but it does not say much about the design or risk analysis made by the manufacturer in the design stage or demanding information for the consumer.

But what about those perils? Sjögren points us to a study in the International Journal of Colorectal Disease. It looked at the rectums arriving at Stockholm South General Hospital.

Retained foreign rectal objects may require surgical removal. To estimate the magnitude of this problem, we report the incidence and treatment of retained rectal objects at a large emergency hospital, and calculate incidence rates at the national level in Sweden.

We show an increasing incidence in rectal foreign bodies in Swedish national data. The increase was most noticeable in men…To mitigate surgical cost and comorbidity, policies to decrease the risk of retained sex toys could be considered.

Objects like…

Median age was 41 years (range 15–92) and 65 (76%) were males. The majority of incidents were self-inflicted (72%)… The objects were sex toys (dildos and butt plugs) in 41% of cases. The other 59% consisted mostly of cans, bottles, candles, and eatables. We admitted 63 patients (74%) where bedside retrieval was unsuccessful. In 3 patients, the object spontaneously ejected while awaiting surgery.

The solution?

We hypothesize that a safety string or adequate-sized stopper potentially could have prevented retaining the dildos, since a recurring problem was difficulty in grasping the objects endoluminally.

And lighting candles before ‘digestion’…

 

electric-cord

Picture 1 of 7

Posted: 4th, December 2018 | In: Key Posts, Strange But True, The Consumer | Comment


Poo found on every McDonald’s touchscreen tested

McDonalds poo

 

Is McDonald’s chasing the authentic farm-to-table experience by smearing poo on its touchscreen monitors, Touch. Inhale. And in an instant you’re cow-side at the farm. Metro reports on findings by the London Metropolitan University whose researchers found fecal matter on every touchscreen they tested across eight different McDonald’s restaurants – six in London and two in Birmingham. On all screens the researchers found coliforms – bacteria found in digestive tracts and turds. 

Paul Matewele, a microbiology lecturer at London Metropolitan University, is quoted: “Touchscreen technology is being used more and more in our daily lives but these results show people should not eat food straight after touching them. They are unhygienic and can spread disease. Someone can be very careful about their own hygiene throughout the day but it could all be undone by using a touchscreen machine once.”

No proof that it has. But the theory is there. Maybe McDonald’s customers should be sheep-dipped on entry and exit? And is eight screens a big test? Surely not. McDonald’s operates approximately 1300 restaurants in the UK of which around 1100 are franchised. The Metro doesn’t say who owns the eateries the researchers checked. McDonald’s says it said cleans the self-order screens throughout the day. Sadly it doesn’t clean its patrons. 

This research is thinner than, well, anyone who eats at a McDonald’s. The fact is that anywhere where people touch things without first washing their hands thoroughly present a risk of contamination. Why else do you think Ronald McDonald wears gloves? 

 

Posted: 1st, December 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


You can buy the console Led Zeppelin used to record Stairway to Heaven

Recording console led zeppelin

 

The Helios console Led Zeppelin used it to record Stairway to Heaven is for sale. And that’s not all. The mixing desk is the combination of two recording consoles pulled together n 1996 by Elvis Costello and Squeeze’s Chris Difford.

This slice of history is for sale at Bonhams:

They used part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) and part of Alvin Lee’s Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979).

The two consoles were combined in 1996 after Difford and Costello acquired both from storage in order to set up their own studio HeliosCentric Studios ‘which would be for everyone to use – a chapel of music in a quiet spot.’ They sought advice from the original creator of Helios, Dick Swettenham, and carefully amalgamated the pair to create what is arguably one of Swettenham’s first, last, and largest project.

The newly combined console was installed on a peaceful farm in Rye that became a haven for musical artists and has been in constant use ever since. Artists who have used the console in both their original and amalgamated guises include: Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley & The Wailers, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, George Harrison, Jeff Beck, Stephen Stills, Jimi Hendrix, Mott The Hoople, Cat Stevens, Free, KT Tunstall, Athlete, Paolo Nutini, Sia, Olly Murrs, Dido, Pet Shop Boys, Scouting For Girls, David Bowie, Paul Weller, Mud, Gary Barlow, Supergrass and Keane.

Department Specialist Claire Tole-Moir comments: ‘It is hard to overestimate how crucial a role this console has played in the British rock and pop scene. It is entirely unique, being an amalgamation of two already incredibly influential and important consoles, and in its current form has hosted some of the most popular bands of recent years. Songs and albums recorded on this bespoke console and its original parts rank among some of the most recognizable and best-loved pieces of music in existence, and have resulted in Grammys, Brit Awards and multiple number one spots. This console is a piece of Britain’s modern cultural history.’

Spotter; Dangerous Minds, Flashbak

Posted: 30th, November 2018 | In: Music, News, The Consumer | Comment


Manchester United sell kit that does not actually exist

man-utd-fourth-kit-leopard

 

Dreaming up news to market the band is hard graft. But Manchester United are very good at it. The Brand are selling a replica kit that does not exist in the real world. The kit is a “digital concept” within the world of FIFA 19. The “Adidas x EA Sports Manchester United” kit has been designated as the club’s fourth kit. But it only exits in the the computer game. The horror show continues as Adidas announce that only “limited quantities” of the hideous neon leopard skin shirt will be produced and put on sale. So if you want to dress like a video game avatar pretending to an actual footballer, get in there fast. Yours for €90.

Bayern Munich, Juventus and Real Madrid are also prepping to flog digital kits to the slack-jawed masses. 

 

Posted: 23rd, November 2018 | In: Fashion, manchester united, News, Sports, Technology, The Consumer | Comment