Ed Vebell to America: You’re sexier than you think!

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Ed Vebell illustration to “You’re Sexier Than You Think!”, Sunday Mirror Magazine, March 7, 1954.

Between the late 1940s and the early 1950s, mass-circulation magazines often used premiere illustrators to provide art for feature stories. Ed Vebell was one of the best, and we frequently come across his work in our Sunday Mirror Magazine archives, including many original artboards.

The above illustration was for an article titled “You’re Sexier Than You Think!” and it appeared in the March 7, 1954 issue of the magazine. The long article that accompanies it is about famed psychologist Dr. Albert Ellis and his views about pop-cultural images of beauty.

The cutline just below the illustration: “The standards of beauty and perfection personified by movie queens are ‘phony and illusory,’ a noted psychologist contends, and assures the average woman she’s more attractive than she thinks.”

I think the picture says it all.

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About Ed Vebell:

Vebell grew up in Chicago, the son of Lithuanian  immigrants. He began attending art school at age 14. He launched his career with a busy Chicago ad agency.

Vebell was a combat artist during WWII, doing illustrations, cartooning and photography for Stars and Stripes. In 1945 he participated in the Nurenburg War Crimes Trials as a courtroom artist.

After the war, Vebell settled in Connecticut and became a leading freelance illustrator, creating paintings and drawings for Readers Digest, Time and Sports Illustrated.

Vebell is also a distinguished fencer and participated in the 1952 Olympics.

Now 93, Vebell has amassed the largest collection of military uniforms and military memorabilia in the U.S.

Here are some other samples of his work from our archives:

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Filed under From the archives, Hollywood

Lobby Cards: Dealing A Pack of Great Escapes

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David Cohea

During the mid- to late-years of the ’60s—while older neighbor kids on our block were getting drafted to fight in the Vietnam War, and demonstrators were marching at Northwestern University and hippies were smoking pot on the steps of the Art Institute and free-love enthusiasts were making big bucks in the original Playboy Mansion across State Stret, while racial tensions grew on the west side of Chicago and shadows lengthened inside my own home—while all that was going on any given Saturday, I was at the matinee at the Varsity Theater in Evanston.

All of that fermenting, fomenting chaos outside the plush red lobby of the Valencia was like rumbles of summer thunderstorms, buffered, as they had always been since the 1920’s, by the gilt interior of a movie palace built for great escapes.

As much as I might have been enthralled with that afternoon’s double-bill—a cornocopeia of cornball  Disney comedies, Hammer horror and main bill second-runs— what lay ahead was always more engaging to me than whatever was up on the big screen that day. Loading up on Chicklits and soda at the massive concession stand in the Valencia lobby, my eye always strayed to the lobby cards announcing coming attractions, imagining how much better those films would surely be.

Smaller than the 22”x28” main poster sheet,—usually they were 11”x14”—lobby cards came in sets of 8 (sometimes up to 16 for the biggest-budget productions) and offered the glimpses of the best scenes . (Some might have said that was false advertising for a less-than-average movie, but who was I to quibble? I was a dumb kid.)

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Lobby cards promoting upcoming movies in the lobby of the Allenby Cinema in Toronto, 1936

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The cards were printed in brilliant (usually lurid) colors on the brightest-white stock. Artwork bordering the images were hand-tinted using emerging print processes like photogelatin and heliotype.

Big studio weight was behind the production of these lobby cards, with execs and stars involved in their production throughout. And some great illustrators were brought in for the job—Norman Rockwell and Dan Sayre Groesbeck, George Petty and Vargas, Frank Frazetta and Peter Max.

But as movie theaters began fading from the cultural landscape, the great art of lobby cards came to an end in 1985 when the National Screen Service ceased printing most posters and lobby cards. Inventory that had been stored in its warehouses got into the hands of individual collectors, and film posters and cards became quite collectible. (The highest price for a single poster if $690,000 for a copy of Fritz Lang’s 1927 Metropolis.)

If you’re a sucker for these things as I am, there are also some great online resources. Turner Classic Movies has a great lobby card collection, and I found a Tumblr site that collects them too. Many of the ones appearing on this post are from those sources.

Now we can only imagine backward, and try to sense the wonder of some sugar-jacked theater-goer sipping on a Coke and reading lobby cards while waiting for the second feature to begin …

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Filed under Hollywood, Movieland, Vintage Illustration

Archive-O-Rama: Case of the Taxi Dancer Who Couldn’t Drive

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According to the bereaved husband’s account, his attractive wife recognized one of the thugs, who whipped out a gun, reached through the car window and fired twice at her. (Illustration by Mel Phillips)

Sunday Mirror Magazine, March 6, 1949

By SPENCER HARDY

On the surface it appeared to be an ordinary lovers’ lane holdup—until police found some bizarre details on the affirs of the slain red-head behind the wheel

ANY TIME A HUSBAND who has numerous dealings with other women suddenly becomes very attentive to his wife and, just for example, invites her to come along and view the beauties of the Grand Canyon, she had better watch out. He might be planning to push her over the precipice.

Lucille Bolton, a red-haired, dainty creature whom many husbands would nave cherished just for the sake of decoration, if nothing else, accompanied her ladies’-man husband to see a pretty view and, though nothing as spectacular as being shoved off a cliff happened to her, she was effectively done in with a pistol.

Our Lucille was a taxi dancer and her Johnny was a gigolo. Theirs is a story of Hollywood, where life-and death, too, dear reader—can be like a movie.

The  setting of Lucille Boltons’s murder was beautiful. Our mind’s eye can see it clearly, aided by the account meted out in painful phrases by young John Bolton in a Santa Monica hospital bed, after they removed a bullet from his shoulder.

It was deep night, the sky moonless but sprinkled with stars. The place was the Lincoln Highway, at a high point overlooking Santa Monica and the Pacific Ocean, in an unpopulated section of what is called the Hollywood hills, about 10 or 12 miles southwest of Hollywood and Vine. Lucille and John had driven out there alone, sometime in the early morning, from the Los Angeles dance hall where she worked.

Tiny Lucille was only a humble taxi-dancer, but the automobile in which she and her husband were sitting while they enjoyed the ocean view was a shiny 16-cylinder Cadillac sedan–rented, to be sure, but quite a luxury. The Boltons had been around Hollywood long enough to know the value of front.

They were parked in a car port. a widened part of the paving provided especially by the highway builders for automobilists who might want to stop there and enjoy the view. Before them, past rustling trees, the hills rolled down to the broad Pacific.

As Bolton told it later, they were just sitting, smoking and talking quietly about his promotion plans, which mainly concerned his project to raise money to open a dance hall, where Lucille would be the hostess. (That was why the handsome, dark-eyed young promoter was always calling on single, middle-aged women–to raise money for the project.)

They were all alone at the spot for quite a while–most people being in bed at that hour of the night—when another car, a Ford coupe, came into the port and stopped at some distance to the right.

“That was at the side of our car where I was sitting,” Bolton explained to police. “Lucille was at the left, at the wheel. She had been driving, which she loved.”

He paused and grimaced, either because of the pain of his shoulder wound or the pain of the memory of his wife’s sweet foibles. Even policemen felt sorry for him.

“Then,” he went on, “two men got out of the car and walked toward us. It was so dark I couldn’t see their faces very clearly, but one was a tall, thin man, and the other was shorter and heavyset. The tall man had a pistol and wore gloves. He poked the gun into my ribs and told me to hand over my money. I gave him all I had–$25. That seemed to satisfy them and they started back toward their car. But then—“

Bolton stopped again and looked pained.

“Then Lucille spoke up. She said, ‘I know that tall man. I’ve seen him when I was at work. His name is Shor.’”

Alas for chatterers. How often they say the wrong thing. Lucille might better at that point have cried, “What a divine night!”–almost anything else, or, better yet, have kept her pretty mouth shut.

As it was–to continue with the bereaved husband’s account-the tall man whirled around, rushed back to the car, reached through the car window past Bolton and. as Lucille held her hand to her face and screamed, shot her twice, once in the heart and once in the left breast.

“Then he turned the gun on me,” said Bolton. “I struggled and managed to push it away from my face, so that when he fired the bullet hit me in the shoulder. I fell over as if I were dead, and he went away.”

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To Capt. William J. Bright, chief inspector of the homicide bureau in the Los Angeles county sheriffs office, this seemed on the face of it to be a very ordinary crime–a stupid, trigger-happy holdup.

There was nothing to do, apparently, except find the man named Shor.

BUT police in real life don’t solve mysteries by simply proceeding from one logical step to another. They try everything, just in case.

There was quite a lot of stuff around the car—a fingerprint on the steering wheel; a .22 caliber cartridge shell on the floor beside the front seat; a .22 caliber pistol in the bushes nearby, with the fingerprints wiped off; Lucille’s coat in the back seat–it was a chilly Fall night–containing money apparently overlooked by the robbers, and Bolton’s topcoat beside it, containing a bankbook showing a balance of $4,048–a surprisingly large sum, considering that Lucille’s income wasn’t sumptuous.

Nothing was to be learned from two men who had started out early on the highway to go duck hunting and. seeing Bolton leaning weakly against the Cadillac and signaling for a ride, had taken the wounded man to the hospital.

Nobody connected with the dance hall professed to know anything about Shor. But Bright’s inquiries at the rental agency, made with no particular angle in mind, turned up evidence of a very interesting individual of that name.

“Yes,” said the proprietor of the agency. “I know the car. I rented it to Mrs. Bolton’s chauffeur late yesterday afternoon.”

This staggered the inspector a bit. With thousands of dollars in the bank and a private chauffeur for Lucille, the Boltons were turning out to be a fascinating couple.

“Mrs. Bolton’s chauffeur?” he exclaimed. “What’s his name?”

“I’ll look it up on the forms we require the driver to sign,” said the agency proprietor. “He’s been renting here for weeks.”

He dug out a handful of driver’s receipts and handed them to Captain Bright. The name signed to them was William Shor.

“A tall, thin man with pale eyes and bushy hair,” said the agency man. “I don’t know where you could find him or anything else about him.”

Now Captain Bright had the basis for a new theory. Lucille and Shor had been taking rides together and a romance had developed. The chauffeur had become jealous. Perhaps she had been intending to leave her husband and had changed her mind. Then, knowing her favorite secluded parking place, he had gone there to kill her. When she made the statement about knowing him, she had naturally lied about the circumstances and not mentioned that she knew him as a lover.

But why did Shor at first merely commit a holdup and turn back to shoot the girl only when he heard her speak his name? Maybe he had meant to shoot her at the beginning but had lost his nerve.

At the Bank of America, Bright learned that the Boltons’ bankbook had been doctored to show its large deposit total, apparently for the purpose of impressing prospective dance hall investors. The Boltons had less than $100 in the bank.

Shor was picked up with almost no trouble. A couple of detectives found him with his chauffeur’s cap on, sleeping off a hangover in the back of a saloon. He was inclined to be uncommunicative until Captain Bright said:

“All right, don’t talk then. But Lucille Bolton named you as her murderer before she died, and I’ve got enough information for a murder warrant.”

When he learned it was Bolton who had told the police about Lucille’s recognition of her killer, Shor was furious.

“The double crosser!” he cried. “He’s trying to frame me!”

He now talked freely and produced a perfect alibi–on account of a bit of obstreperousness, he had been in jail the night before, not only while the murder was committed, but all night.

He said he had rented automobiles not only for Lucille Bolton; he had rented them even more frequently for her husband. This turned out to be true, the rental agency proprietor’s information being incomplete. There bad been nothing between him and Lucille, he insisted. So much, Captain Bright thought, for the jealousy theory.

But a radical new turn developed now. Two women relatives of Lucille turned up and said Bolton had always been a worthless fellow against whom they had warned her and that he was lying when he said she had been driving the car. She had never driven, they said.

The only fingerprints found on the steering wheel were Bolton’s. His wound seemed suspicious to Captain Bright. A surgeon at the hospital agreed with the inspector’s doubts and provided the technical information that the wound was made while the arm was hanging at the side, a queer position for it to be in when the man was supposed to be fighting for his life. A woman from whom Bolton had been trying to get money, for the usual dance hall venture, said she had refused to give him the money when she learned he was married. She had expected him to marry her before any capital changed hands.

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DETECTIVES found the hardware dealer who had sold the pistol found at the scene of the murder. The buyer, he said, was Bolton.

On this strong basis of circumstantial evidence, Bolton was convicted, Jan. 25. 1930, three months later, of the murder of his wife, apparently to get her out of the way of his schemes.

At San Quentin prison, where he was sent for life, he apparently began to brood on his brutality to a trusting wife. Within five years his mind had gone completely to pieces and he was transferred to the Mendocino state hospital, as hopelessly insane.

(NOTE: William Shor is a pseudonym used here to protect a person innocently dragged into the investigation.)

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A great noir tale, wouldn’t you agree? And only a car can take us there …

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Filed under Cars, From the archives, Noir, The Forties, True Crime

Aerial Hijinx: “Blondie,” 1955

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This 1955 Blondie cartoon shows how much some things have changed — remember aerials? Or paying  five bucks for a service call? — and how much DIY’ers still face the same pitfalls. Well, some are steeper than others …

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Filed under From the archives, Retro High Tech, The Fifties, Toon Time

A day in the life of a tech nut (1947)

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“Mr. Breger” was a comic that began as “Private Breger” during WWII. (Its other name, “G.I. Joe,” later became widely used.) During the war, his cartoons were signed by Sgt. Dave Breger. After the war it became “Mister Breger” and ran until 1970.

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Filed under From the archives, Retro High Tech, Toon Time

Future Visions #2: What 2000 Was Supposed To Look Like (in 1958)

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Cutline: “Catching the 8:07 ‘copter will be a breeze for urbanites, who’ll be whooshed down to the heliport in a space scooter.”

It’s a Wonderful World – Tomorrow!

The Same Science That Has Put Satellites into Outer Space is Working to Make Your Home Out of This World. Here’s a Preview of What’s on the Horizon

By Joan O’Sullivan, New York Mirror Magazine Home Editor

New York Mirror Magazine, May 25, 1958

IT MAY NOT BE PLAUSIBLE but anything’s possible in the world of tomorrow. Your most extravagant daydreams will come true because the same science that rockets Sputniks into orbit is conjuring up a multitude of modern miracles that are strictly down to earth, designed to make everyday living easier.

The progress possible in the closing years of our century isn’t nearly so remote as the moon—and man expects to reach that satellite, go on to other planets, within the next few decades.

The Atomic Age is coming home but to houses that will be far different from any we now know.

Some will be plastic and vinyl rubber. A model, made by U.S. Rubber, resembles an igloo. You’ll buy them deflated, then hunt for a foundation over which to inflate them.

When a job transfer occurs, you’ll be able to deflate the house, fold it into a neat parcel and move it to Pittsfield, Plattsburgh or Kalamazoo.

Other dwellings will be constructed of new lighter, stronger steel, now being researched at laboratories of such companies as Sharon Steel. It will revolutionize architecture, give houses new shapes—triangular, semi-spherical, globular.

You won’t run down to the cellar or up to the attic. Both will be eliminated. New storage areas will be found in extra rooms, cheaply available because homes for the average-income family will be mass-produced prefabs. You’ll be able to put up a house in a day, two at most, which is far less time than it now takes merely to find a vacant apartment in the rent-bracket you can afford.

Furnaces? They’ll be outmoded. Solar heating units will keep the new homestead snug and comfy during the Winter. If the sunshine supply runs out, an auxiliary heat pump will go to work during the exceptional spells of snowy, rainy, cloudy weather. Come season, go season, solar heat and air conditioning will maintain an even indoor temperature of 72 degrees and 50 percent humidity. In Phoenix, Ariz., a completely solar-heated house has just been built, architectural proof of what’s to come.

There will be no need for Pop to snow-shovel the driveway in the year 2000. There won’t be one. The family car by then will have given way to a helicopter, which will land on a plastic roof (it will never leak!) automatically heated to shed snow as it falls.

Transportation, which will definitely include atom-powered boats and planes so rapid you’ll be able to commute daily from Paris to a New York office, will likely produces a space-scooter, a sort of second family car. Mom will use it to scoot after groceries or deliver the kids to school. Pop might hop into it and take off for work.

Such transportation is a long way off but within the next few years will come a local travel change. Helicopter commuting will be as common as bus or train trips. New York Airways even now picks up a few commuters from Stamford and Westchester and delivers them to a heliport on the Hudson River at West 30th St. The company expect to enlarge up this service greatly with a fleet of two-motor ‘copters that seat 15. By 1970 and probably even before that, there’ll be numerous commuter runs daily. Intra-city service, such as New York to Philadelphia, will be scheduled soon, too.

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Just a Hint of What’s to Come

The interior of the modern house will be heavenly form a homemaker’s viewpoint.

Much furniture will be built-in—the trend is already underway—a boon to apartment-dwellers for whom moving day will be reduced to packing a suitcase and a few odds-and-ends furnishings.

John Van Koert, well-known designer, sees quick color changes possible because walls will be replaced by sliding panels. Sick of one color backdrop? Pull out another.

There will be no special-purpose rooms, says  Van Koert, as we know them. Instead, uniformity of decoration   through the house will be thin. Bedrooms and dining rooms will be decorated to look like living rooms. When wall panels are pushed back, the entire house will be furnished suitably to make one huge living area, if such is required for large-scale entertaining.

Many current decorating problems will vanish.

You won’t have to wonder about where to put the television, for example. Its working parts will be so small and so flat, says RCA’s David Sarnoff Research Center, the TV will be installed in a picture frame and hung on a wall.

Lamp wires will be non-existent—and lamps may well be, too. Westinghouse has already developed a method of coating glass, metal and plastic with phosphor which produces light. In the future, it’s expected that this process will be used for window shades, drapes, table tops, even ceilings and walls. They’ll all light up, lamp style.

Housekeeping will be a breeze-literally. You’ll wave a wand and dust will vanish. According to Westinghouse experts, the wand will be electrostatic. Like a magnet, it will draw dust from under beds, behind books and form all the remote crevices and corners where it hides out nowadays, stubbornly resisting the efforts of the homemaker’s dust mop or vacuum.

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A Brave Look Into the Crystal Ball

WHAT WILL MILADY wear in the years to come? It’s a tough question to answer. Predicting fashion changes from one season to the next stumps most experts right now. Sack or chemise, trapeze-look or sputnik-influence, new clothes will be made from wonder fabrics now being researched in laboratories of such companies as E.I. du Pont and Chemstrand.

What will result from these studies is anyone’s guess but here a few predictions:

1. Marvel elastic fibers that will produce doll-size dresses capable of stretching into sizes from 14 to 40.

2. Plastic frocks that will deflate for storage, inflate for wearing.

3. Spray-on waterproofing that will eliminate galoshes and rain gear.

4. Disposable wear-them-one-and-throw-them-away dresses made of specially treated paper.

5. Air-conditioned fabrics that will cool in Summer, insulate in Winter.

6. Shoes packaged with a special solution that will mold them to feet, insure perfect fit without fuss or bother.

7. One-piece undergarments designed to mold the body into Monroe shape sans ribbing or other uncomfortable features.

Whatever results, it’s possible that, instead of cutting dresses, Seventh Avenue will be “pouring” test-tube mixtures into dress molds.

Even beauty is in for some revolutionary improvements, says Madame Helena Rubenstein, who has revolutionized the glamour field over the years. She believes that the creams and lotions we now spread hopefully on our faces will be concentrated in liquids, pills and capsules taken orally. Permanent waves will be speeded into a matter of minutes. A remedy will be found for the male ego’s curse, baldness.

Food preparation even now gets closer and closer to the completely push-button era it will be a few years hence. Frigidaire, Whirlpool-RCA and other companies have designed kitchens that preview what’s to come.

For a meal of the future, you’ll press a selector dial that will move food from freezer to oven at a specified time and guarantee a perfectly cooked dinner at just the right hour.

There’ll be an automatic service cart to take meals from oven to table, from table to cabinet. In the future dirty dishes won’t go into sink or dishwasher but will be cleaned right on the storage racks.

Portability may even be extended to the kitchen itself. Westinghouse has designed a futuristic kitchen unit on wheels. You’ll be able to push it about, plug it in any place there’s an outlet.

Food itself won’t change radically. We’re not headed for an age of capsules and pills—and who wants it? You can’t toast the bride properly with a champagne capsule and perish the thought of putting a candle on a birthday pill. Food will stay as people like it, the way it is.

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Won’t Have to Catch the Waiter’s Eye

It’s a lovely day, tomorrow. You’ll dial Paris to reserve pate de foie gras for lunch at Maxim’s—you’ll actually be able to pick out the portion you want by teleview-phone. Then, you’ll hop a plane and whiz to your luncheon rendezvous abroad. If you miss a must-see TV show, a see-hear tape will record and photograph it for play-back on your return. Of course, that push-button kitchen will have dinner ready and waiting.

It’s going to be an era of togetherness. Time-saving devices will bring mother, dad and the kids together for longer period. There’ll be no need for calm-you-down or pep-you-up pills, for “tension” will be an obsolete word.

If progress continues to jet ahead—and each coming year will turn fantasy predictions into fact—three-to-four week vacations and time to spare. What to so with it? Travel and hobbies are two answers that come to mind. As for us, there are a few books we’ve always wanted to read …

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Illustrations by Bob Bugg

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Filed under From the archives, Retro High Tech, The Fifties

Archive-O-Rama: Switchboard Blues

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New York Mirror Magazine, 1947

Drawings by Michael Berry

OF ALL THE PEOPLE who make daily use of Alexander Graham Bell’s remarkable invention–the telephone–none are screwier than those who call up newspapers. Take it from a newspaper’s chief operator.

One reported her woes to the Telephone Order of Personality and Smiles (TOPS) at a meeting in Bridgeport, Conn.

Talk about foolish questions! Can you imagine asking, “What was the maiden name of Gargantua, the gorilla?” Or, “My canary just laid an egg. What do I do? Separate the parents?”

Folks frequently phone at 2 in the morning to ask where they can get married. then there are executives, who, to show they’re big shots, have four assistants call before they deign to get on the wire … and the girl whose business is so secret she won’t even tell the operator whom she wants to talk to.

Anyway, our cartoonist Michael Berry, using the same deft fingers with which he dials our number to tell us his drawings will be late, depicts some of the situations poor operators are up against.

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Remind Editor’s note: Until the mid-1960s, switchboard telephone operators manually connected calls by inserting a pair of phone plugs into appropriate jacks. Eventually came operator distance customer direct dial calling.  Into the 1980s, companies often used receptionists to screen and funnel incoming calls. Automatic phone systems eventually took over, forever separating callers from live bodies on the other end of the line.

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Filed under From the archives, Retro High Tech