Happy Birthday to the LAVA LAMP: Fifty Years of Cool Wax!

This piece was originally published July 15th, 2013.

Lava Lamp IconIn the mid-Fifties, a former WWII pilot and post-war British accountant named Edward Craven Walker was at a local English country pub called Queen’s Head along with a friend, and found himself staring at a homemade egg timer made by one of the pub’s regulars.

This particular object, which Walker described as a “contraption made out of a cocktail shaker, old tins and things” dated from WWII, and was filled with two immiscible liquids (liquids that do not mix together).

As the contents, “odd oily globules” were heated upon the pub’s stove, the wax rose and signaled that your egg was ready.

Inspired, he purchased the egg timer/lamp and worked for a decade and a half tinkering with various liquids and containers in an attempt to create a better version. He achieved his goal in 1963.

Walker filed a patent for a “Display Device” in 1965 and but had already started merchandising his creation in September of 1963 as a company called Crestworth Ltd. using the name Astro Lamp.

 

Edward Craven Walker

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BOB PEAK: American Illustrator Superstar

This piece was originally published June 1&th, 2013

Bob Peak Icon TemplateThere are times here at Mystery Box H.Q. when I set out to write about a subject that I feel is so undeniably a legend, so incredibly talented beyond mere words, and such a large influential part of the fabric of popular culture, that I start to feel…to say it in two words— humbly intimidated.

Bob Peak is one of those subjects.

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MAIL-ORDER MYSTERIES!

This piece was originally published January 3rd, 2012.

Count Dante Post TemplateIf you were a kid that grew up in the late ’50s, the ’60s, the ’70s or even well into the ’80s, and you’re reading this, I would say that there is a pretty good chance that you also sat for many hours in front of the television set watching cartoons, sitcoms and action/adventure series, listened to music, and spent considerable hours reading comic books (and MAD Magazine! ). 

All this pop culture most assuredly helped to formulate a generation or two that really saw their creative imaginations run wild, and their youthful desires and wishes expand beyond even that of their older siblings who were brought up in the first crazy period of teenage rebellion known as the earlier Rock and Roll generation.


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I Dream Of Shoedini…

This piece was originally published January 17th, 2011.

Gilbert Gottfried Post IconBy now the world of infomercials and As Seen On TV products have been written and talked about, goofed on and parodied endlessly.

Yet, there seems no end to the inventions that these shadowy wizards are able to come up with.

Like modern day snake oil salesmen, the ever growing LLC of the fast buck is a school of commerce that continues to pull the punters in.

 

Here then, are a few favorites that have been piling up in the viewing lounge at Mystery Box HQ, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do…
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Hey Menko! A Look at Japan’s Colorful Little Card Wonders

This piece was originally published April 20th, 2009 Menko Man IconMenko is two things: first, a card game that has been played by kids in Japan since Japan’s Edo period (1603 to 1868 a.k.a. the pre modern isolationist Shogunate era of Japan, usually the period where most bad ass Samurai films take place) and is surprisingly still around today, and second, the name for the actual cards themselves. Menko as a game is similar to marbles and with much respect to this actual game, which is ingrained in a multitude of Japanese childhood memories to this day, you probably won’t be playing Menko anytime soon, nor will I, but oh boy, a piece of cardboard with a colorful printed image on one side has rarely been as visually appealing and fun as the glorious Menko. The Menko card reflects Japan’s cultural history, pop history and team sports history. Being a close relative to the trading card, or even a Pokemon card, kids have collected them, traded them and probably sneaked a few into their pockets at the corner store…uhh, forgetting to pay at the register.

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TajTunes: The Singing Telegram with a Happy Twist

This piece was orignally published February 23rd, 2009

Dr Guru from the 1967 Fantastic Voyage Saturday morning cartoon show IconIndia is a nation where music and song are ingrained into everyday life and virtually inescapable to the resident or traveling visitor. From outdoor market stalls and back alleyway shops, there are loud speakers often set up somewhere providing a daily soundtrack for the passerby. From business district to humble doorway, there are performers or non performers singing, chanting or at the very least changing the cassette or cd of their funky windowsill boombox.

It is nearly a prerequisite that most of the films released in the Mumbai based “Bollywood” feature song and dance sequences, regardless of the subject matter or genre, that will often tie into becoming massive selling soundtracks and popularly known songs throughout the gigantic country.

In keeping with this spirit of daily musical delight and escapist love of song and dance comes a happy company called TajTunes…

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