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Among the other things my aunt dropped off while housecleaning last week was a copy of The Literary Digest Vol. 55 No. 14 cover dated October 6, 1917. Much as the Newsweek would be familiar to modern readers, so too this magazine's warnings about the dangers posed by illegal aliens (in this case German agents), military chaos in Russia (in this case the result of two Russian Revolutions), and the failure of the public at large to respect its soldiers (in this case resulting from a lack of patriotic songs). If you think shit in the world is bad now, be glad you weren't living in 1917.

The most familiar aspects of this magazine are the advertisements. Covering everything from handsaws to night shirts, most of the advertisements are — unsurprisingly in a "literary" publication — for books. Mail away and you can teach yourself electrical engineering, learn how to raise rabbits for fun and profit, and speak French in time for your deployment to the front. But the most intriguing ad might be this:

Knowledge dirty old men should have, too

A "wholesome" guide to everything I need to know about sex in 1917? Must be a short book. Thanks to the magic of the Information Age, we no longer need to mail $2 to Philadelphia to find out what Knowledge a Young Man Should Have. All 232 pages of Sexology by William H. Walling (including its 2 illustrations!) are available for free on Google Books.

First of all, the book was 13 years old by 1917, so some of its medical advice was probably outdated. But that wouldn't have been an issue for Professor Walling. Most of his teachings were based on tradition, anecdote, or religion that would have been more at home in Ripley's Believe It or Not. Chapter IV, "Masturbation, Male," opens with the incrimination, "viewing the world over, this shameful and criminal act is the most frequent, as well as the most fatal, of all vices." Is that so? I don't think there are many episodes of Law and Order where the coroners has listed "jerking off" as the cause of death.

"Dr. Doussin Deubreuil relates the case of a child who contracted the habit spontaneously at the age of five years, who, in spite of all that could be done, died at sixteen having lost his reason at eleven."

The book gives no guide to what sorts of cures could be used to prevent the inevitable "loss of memory and intelligence" inflicted upon even the occasional masturbator. Just know that if you do it, you're gonna lose your marbles and die. I suspect this is the prototypical case of the cure being worse than the disease.

This sort of drivel takes up 8 pages. A further 7 pages are devoted to the equal dangers of "Masturbation, Female" ("Alas, that such a term is possible!"). There's also guidance on the physical and moral dangers of abortion and incest and an accompanying medical explanation that the "softer and less voluminous" brains of women make them easily confused and stupid. You can't argue with science, ladies!

But the good doctor isn't a monster. His book advises strongly against rape (even by married men of their wives) and does its best to dispel myths about marriage, pregnancy, and childbirth. (He's a big fan of breast over bottle.) "A husband is generally the architect of his own misfortunes," is the first bit of wisdom listed in his final chapter. Of course the same chapter ends with "The only recipe for permanent happiness in wedlock: Christianity" does go a few steps too far.

In the 21st century, we've gotten use to misinformation and bad science disseminated through blog posts and cable news. Isn't it nice to know that the self-proclaimed experts of a century ago and their mail-order instructional manuals were just as bad?

(Footnote: If you want to read about how the motion picture industry is actually becoming — gasp! — big business in 1917 America, you can also read that copy of The Literary Digest online here.)

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The following teaser trailers for porn videos are all completely safe to watch at work. That's part of what's so weirdly compelling about them.

2011:

2012:

2013:

2015:

That's right: four pornographic "parody" videos made by Axel Braun, the self-proclaimed "undisputed King of Parody," in the past four years. And they all star the same man ("Ryan Driller," who — I shit you not — has been nominated for two Adult Video News Best Actor Awards for his performances in two of the above movies). DC hasn't managed anything close to that production schedule (or awards recognition) in decades.

I'm not going to pretend that I understand how drawing a diagonal line through the "S" on his chest makes it okay to make rip-off Superman movies, but I have to admit that these look just as good as anything running on the CW. However, if Bruan can churn these disposable flicks out on a regular basis with production values this good, maybe DC should look into hiring him to make a real Superman movie.

It can't possibly be any worse than Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.

Just sayin'.

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I watch a lot of movies. Those movies have a lot of bad actors. But none of those actors are as bad as Kate Upton is in these Game of War: Fire Age commercials.

Upton is a pretty girl, but it's hard to believe that someone who modeled her way onto multiple covers of Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue could be that unaware of how she looks in front of a camera. Dead eyes, poor inflection, stiff mannerisms.... It's not sexy if I can't bear to watch.

The ridiculous ad copy isn't doing her any favors, either. It would be hard to take anyone saying "other than what's about to come out of those trees" seriously. Maybe Sam Jackson. Come to think of it, he'd find a way to make that dress work, too.

Game of War must think that some eye-candy is going to translate directly into sales. Sorry, guys, but I don't make those sorts of choices with my dick. No matter how hard I try, it's simply no good at manipulating a touchscreen.

Maybe I'm not the only one resistant to such blatant sex in advertising. Game of War: Fire Age took a huge hit in subscribers in the weeks after the campaign launched. It's still the second highest grossing app on the iPhone (to the tune of over a million dollars a day) but it's not downloaded nearly as often as it once was. Did it reach total market saturation, or was it a mistake to spend $40 million on ads featuring a bikini model moonlighting as an actress? The world may never know.

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Subject line on email received last week:

Lourdes S. Ploszaj wants you to EXPLORE her BOOBS

There is no way that "Lourdes S. Ploszaj" is a real person, but who doesn't want to explore some boobs?

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The county I live in has spent hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars while prosecuting the local Starship novelty shop for a $205 fine. The county's speeding ticket fines are higher than that!

Specifically, the county accuses the store of offering for sale an unspecified "sexual device...designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs." Not actually selling, mind you. The county ordinance makes it illegal just for offering such a thing — the county won't tell us what exactly it is. Nipple clamps? Dildos? Cock rings? French ticklers? If we want to find out, I guess we need to go to Starship.

The county has had it out for Starship since they announced their intent to build a store here. The county has tried changing their laws, breaking their own laws, lying, and just plain being bastards. If I were Starship, I wouldn't want to pay a single cent of business tax to the the county, but this mess didn't start until after the county approved a business licence (before revoking the license based on a law they passed just to give them an excuse to revoke Starship's new licence).

(For the record, the county treats churches it doesn't want the same way. It's just how business is done in the south.)

The county doesn't want Starship helping its citizens screw, and Starship is tired of the county screwing it. All in all, it's more amusing to watch than any network television drama.

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Sunday, Anne Hathaway won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Les Misérables. I haven't seen Les Misérables and I don't intend to. I have no idea whether she deserved it, but my father says she does. Dad hasn't seen Les Misérables either, but he has seen something he believes is more relevant to the Oscar voting: Hathaway's unméntionables.

Back in December, Anne Hathaway flashed her privates while getting out of a limo at the at the public opening of Les Misérables. My father -- who makes notes of all his crazy predictions so should any of them come to pass he can hold them up and say, "see I'm not crazy" -- predicted at the time that Hathaway's gaffe was an intentional public relations maneuver designed to garner both attention and sympathy. At the time, I dismissed this as just more crazy raving, but look who's holding an Oscar now.

I guess I should have known better as soon as Seth Mcfarlane opened the Oscar ceremony with a song in which the chorus repeated the phrase, "we saw your boobs, in the movie that we saw, we saw your boobs." Although there is no direct correlation between actresses showing their cooters to the cameras and winning Academy Awards, Hollywood knows damn well what we are paying to see.

Despite my initial resistance to my father's "crazy" idea, I've warmed to it. The actress who sleeps her way to the top is a Hollywood cliche. If Hollywood wants to reward its women for flashing fans instead of just producers, I'm pretty sure that's a crazy idea I can get behind.

So listen up, leading ladies: from now on we will all be expecting you to show us some skin if you want to win. Pay attention, Quvenzhané Wallis. At only nine years old, you may have been the youngest Academy Award nominee in history, but you'd better plan on dressing inappropriately if you really want to compete for that elusive Oscar when you grow up.

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It has been extensively reported that tomorrow DC Comics is publishing the comic in which Superman and Wonder Woman finally get it on. This isn't exactly the first time this has happened. What makes this time different is that DC says this time they really, really, really mean it.

Comic book relationships are like comic book deaths: both are very temporary situations. Dating in superhero comics amounts to little more than a brief series of one-night stands. Eventually the romantic-interest character is killed off-panel, becomes the hero's arch-nemesis, or disappears abruptly when the book changes writers. If your hero doesn't have a love interest in his origin story, don't bother learning the names of the girls he goes out with between adventures.

However, if you do know the names of those supporting characters, isn't removing the hero from the romance akin to stealing what defines that hero? The love interests of Superman and Wonder Woman, Lois Lane and Steve Trevor respectively, both shared time in their partner's first comic book appearance. They are as much a part of Superman and Wonder Woman as heat vision and golden lassos. Is it the aspect of infidelity to their partners that makes this story so enticing to the non-comic book reader?

If there's a moral here, it's that sex sells. It even sells funny books.

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I know that I'm a bit prudish, but I really, really don't want to associate Liquid-Plumr with a double-penetrating ménage à trois. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against group sex. I just don't want Liquid-Plumr involved in any of my sexual acts. My turn-offs include hair clogs and chemical burns.

If I'm a prude, what does that make One Million Moms? OMM is the same group that opposed Ellen DeGeneres being spokesman for JC Penny and decried DC Comics' recent homosexualizing of Green Lantern. The group also opposes this 2012 commercial, stating "the new Liquid-Plumr ad is offensive and completely inappropriate for television."

Inappropriate for television? I'm not sure I'd go that far. Television is a pretty vapid wasteland of sex and violence. But I would agree that it is probably inappropriate to sell a drain cleaner as the sexy option in the household poisons aisle.

What's next? Vibrating bottles? Phallic-shaped pipe cleaners? This is one sticky situation that practically cries out for a slippery slope argument. Though I guess that's the point the commercial was trying to make, too.

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The following are the rest of the movies I watched in May.

127. Drive Angry (2011)
This movie was a surprise. I chose to watch it because my brother made a joke about Nic Cage and I set out to demonstrate that everything they say about Cage's acting is true. You can say this about the guy: he leaves it all on the screen. Years from now, this film will be used in college classes to demonstrate that Nic Cage is to cinema as Velveeta is to cheese. That said, I loved this film. From a storytelling standpoint, it does so much right that it's easy to forgive its forced Tarantino-esque dialogue and cliched characterization. This is the film that Robert Rodriguez keeps trying -- and failing -- to make.

128. Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star (2011)
As Trey said, "there is no point while watching this movie that you think, 'this is a good movie.'" But it's not trying to be a good movie. It's a bad movie that's got some good jokes that blindside you for big laughs. After watching this, I happened to watch the first 15 minutes of the 2012 AVN Awards on Showtime, where the porn stars being interviewed on the red carpet made awkward and clueless Bucky Larson look like an Oxford professor. Oh my.

129. Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)
Just like its predecessor, I wanted to dislike this flashy Dreamworks Disney-esque kung-fu cliche, but it's too cute to hold a grudge against.

130. The Ladykillers (1955)
I saw the Coen brothers remake years ago without realizing at the time it was a remake. (I know. I'm clueless.) The remake is good; the original is better, simultaneously funny and suspenseful without ever overplaying its hand.

131. The Kennel Murder Case (1933)
Trey, this is a film in which the death of a dog does not ruin the film. Don't worry: the guy who dies in this whodunit is the one who killed the dog. He got his comeuppance! Suave and comedic, sleuth William Powell may be among my new favorite actors.

132. The Most Dangerous Game (1932)
Watched because I had read the story and seen many variations (*cough* Ice-T is Surviving the Game! *cough*), this film stand up very, very well 80-years after it was made.

133. Ride the High Country (1962)
This is another one of those movies that I appreciate more as time passes. I was dissatisfied with what I felt was a meandering story (and some really cheap sets and action-blocking) by mid-way through this Western, but in the end, they are relevant to the outcome and message of the film. Recommended.

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Assume that you have just opened the morning paper and turned to the sports section to catch-up on the newly announced NFL schedule for 2012 and you see this advertisement.

Your first thought might be something like, "of course I want to get paid by the pound to lose weight." Your second thought might be, "of course I want to squirt eye-droppers full of an unspecified liquid under my tongue because that sounds like a far better way to 'build muscle' than lifting something heavy. I mean, that's got to be better for my back."

Put aside for a minute that HCG is a human hormone commonly found in pregnant women.

Ignore the fact that the currently-popular HCG diet is primarily based on restricting yourself to fewer than 500 calories per day.

Turn a blind eye to the results of more than a dozen studies conducted since 1950 that show no correlation between HCG and weight loss.

Forget that recorded side effects of the drug include blood clots, headache, irritability, depression, severe pelvic pain, swelling of the hands or legs, restlessness, stomach pain, shortness of breath, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness, or (surprise!) weight gain.

Pretend that the FDA, the Mayo Clinic, WebMD, and even Dr. Oz recommend against taking over-the-counter HCG for any reason.

Now ask yourself: what the hell does this have to do with football?

Five yards for illegal procedure!


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To be continued...

 

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