If you live in the vicinity of Lake Erie and you're tired of the usual holiday outing to see yards full of wireframe deer covered in Christmas lights, you might think about heading into Cleveland for a different sort of yuletide day trip. Right near the junction of interstates 90, 71 and 490 lies the house Ralphie grew up in in the seasonal hit A Christmas Story, and it's open to the public!

Ultimate fan Brian Jones bought the house off eBay in 2004, fixed it up and opened it as part of A Christmas Story House and Museum. The house was restored to its appearance in the movie, including recreations of the interiors (which were actually shot on a soundstage in Canada). The museum, located directly across the street, has been stocked with props and costumes from the film. You can even fire a genuine Red Ryder BB gun at a target range in the backyard.

Unfortunately, the much-celebrated leg lamp is not included on the tour, as all three versions that were built for the movie were destroyed during filming. You can see a replica, however, and purchase one for your very own in the gift shop. ... Continued

Technology geeks, especially those like me who are fascinated by retrofuturism, aren't going to be getting much done lately, seeing as Google has recently made available as part of its Google Book Search entire issues of Popular Mechanics dating back to 1905 Popular Science reaching all the way back to 1872!

And when I say entire issues, I mean every page in full color, including the ads (which can be quite fascinating in themselves). Plus, each issue appears to be searchable.

Pictured here are a few of my favorite covers, which tease enticing articles like "Making Movies in a Volcano" (April 1933) and "Rocket to the Moon — No Longer a Fascinating Dream" (May 1950).

Wrap those Christmas gifts now, because the rest of your vacation is going to be spent browsing these archives.

Just a reminder that the auction for the 1956 Aerocar N103D convertible airplane car I wrote about a couple weeks ago ends in just two days.

The retrofuturistic vehicle is being listed as "Best Offer," but you still have the option to beat the rush and snatch it up for the "Buy It Now" price of $3.5 million.

The seller has also added a Web site detailing the history and technical specs of the Aerocar, along with a black-and-white newsreel of the vehicle in action, viewable below.

They've also included list of reasons you should buy the plane-car, which include:

  • It is a unique part of aviation history.
  • It is a testimony to man’s creative genius.
  • It is loved by the public.


Be sure to watch the vintage newsreel on the Aerocar below. ... Continued

Icon of the 1950s and cover girl for women's sexual freedom, Bettie Page has for generations been considered the quintessential pinup girl.

Even now, 50 years after giving up modeling, Page continues to inspire artists, models and performers with her free-spirited sensuality.

Sadly, Bettie Page passed away last night at the age of 85 after suffering a heart attack on Dec. 2. The Los Angeles Times has the story.

From Dinosaurs and Robots:

Those magnetic-strip hotel card/keys are handy, and some of 'em even have nice graphics, but there was also something kind of nice about the sound of a metal key thumping against a "return postage guaranteed" piece of plastic.

I totally agree. And they make great stocking stuffers, too.

Finkbuilt and Dinosaurs and Robots have simultaneously turned me on to this 1970 video titled The Fiberglass Chairs: Something of How They Get the Way They Are, which follows the making of a Charles Eames chair from conception to finish.

The footage, and especially the music, are oddly captivating. It actually reminds me of something Mister Rogers might have shown, only without his soothing voice explaining each step.

Video below. ... Continued

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when America was a leader in the field of science. Advances in theoretical physics, nuclear technology and space exploration in the mid-1900s offered an optimistic view of the future and produced an interest in science among children across the nation.

As a result, brands like Gilbert and Chemcraft produced exciting and surreptitiously educational chemistry sets loaded with beakers, Bunsen burners and dozens of chemicals. And if you were anything like me, you'll remember tossing aside the experiment booklet and randomly mixing things together until something exploded and left a permanent blue stain on the ceiling. That, my friends, was education. ... Continued

Today I've added a new word to my slowly growing Japanese vocabulary. Joining phrases for "one beer, please," "thank you" and "delicious," is haikyo, the word for urban exploration.

I was introduced to this term by the Web site Tokyo Times (via Dinosaurs and Robots), which has recently posted the third part in its series on Nitchitsu, an abandoned mining town three hours west of Tokyo and a site that now sits near the top of my list for urban ruins I most want to visit.

According to Tokyo Times, Nitchitsu housed around 3,000 people at its peak in 1965, but everyone has since moved out, leaving behind an astounding array of personal effects. The former doctor's office is especially intriguing with its piles of surgical intruments and shelves of preserved specimens, including what appears to be an honest-to-god brain in a jar.

Making the rounds of late is the apparently new Product Manual Archive, a Web site dedicated to cataloging product instruction booklets of the past.

The gallery so far appears a bit meager, but includes some terrific images of vintage products, as well as ads, diagrams and how-tos.

Among my favorites is a booklet published by the now-defunct United States Office of Civil Defense titled Fallout Protection: What to Know and Do About Nuclear Attack, which offers helpful advice on how to construct and stock your own inexpensive fallout shelter.

For anyone who's going to be in the Los Angeles area anytime soon, you still have a few weeks to catch the exhibit titled "In Search of Tiki" at the Forest Lawn Museum in Glendale, California.

The exhibit features traditional Oceanic art created by the native people of the Pacific Islands contrasted with the pop artifacts that celebrated the tiki culture following World War II. It also showcases tiki-inspired art by modern artists like Josh "Shag" Agle and Susannah "Atomikitty" Mosher.

"In Search of Tiki" continues through January 4, 2009. Admission is free.