Interested in a thaumatrope? A panorama? How about a phenakistascope? In this age of handheld video games, cell phone solitaire and interactive mechanical pets, it’s certainly amusing to see what passed for toys back in the 19th century. Optical Toys specializes in the reproduction and publishing of these unique, graphically appealing pre- and proto-cinematic antiques. And whether it’s authentic shadow cards—a set of five-inch hand/animal die cuts—or a more culturally relevant toy—like a designer automaton of everyone’s favorite nozzle totin’, hat tippin’ Texas rascal, Dubya—it’s a great grab for someone whose tastes are slightly askew, or if you’re just looking to show the little ones what the world was like before PS2.
“Green” is the color of choice these days for those environmentally conscious souls, and the fine people at UncommonGoods have found a new way for them to wear their cause on their sleeves—or at least, on their shoulders. The New York City-based UncommonGoods brings the Recycled Billboard Shoulder Bag, a handmade bag crafted from the PVC material of giant, outdoor billboards. Each fully lined bag has custom zippers, a nylon interior and, considering the durability of PVC, a guaranteed long shelf life. Up close, the designs on the bags look pixilated, like TV fuzz, and since each bag uses original materials, no two are alike. If you’re looking for the perfect accessory to go along with your new PVC bag,UncommonGoods also has a billboard billfold wallet to match, complete with coin purse and checkbook holder. Their site (www.uncommongoods.com) has more obscure items that prove that wearing recycled paper pants and bottle cap earrings is not the only way to show your fashionable support for the environment.
First there was Uncle Tupelo. Then there was Wilco. Now there’s UNKL Wilco. That’s right, the design team of Derek Welch and Jason Bacon, known to Juxtapoz’ers and counter culturistas as UNKL, have created six Weeble-Wobble-meets-South-Park toys resembling the current cast of the Windy City’s favorite indie sextet: Jeff Tweedy, and, you know, the other five guys in Wilco. So if you missed getting tickets to the show at the Hammerstein this June (which sold out last week in 73 seconds), you can arrange these little rockers on your bookshelf, throw on the new Sky Blue Sky album, and have your own damn concert. Jay Bennett action figures sold separately. (David Callicott)
Play Your Cards Right
If missionary is your only move, then pick up The Sex Deck (Chronicle Books, $14.95), a package of illustrated flash cards that will help you combat monotony in the sack. Each card is devoted to a different sexual position, like Reverse Cowgirl or King For A Night, with detailed how-to-configure instructions, suggested variations, difficulty ratings and explanations of his and her benefits. With 50 different penetrating postures to choose from, you can focus on a new one almost every week of the year until you’ve mastered them all. Or hurt yourself, which seems likely in the case of the Seated Headspin and The Chain. Proceed with caution, and maybe save the Backwards Wheelbarrow for the pros. (David Callicott)