I started collecting found snapshots a few years ago -- at swap meets, antique shops and the like -- but the thing that got me started wasn't the photos themselves so much as the writing I'd sometimes find on the backs. When you're looking through bins of unsorted photos, every thirtieth one or so will have some writing on it. It's generally just identifying information ("me and Jerry at the Grand Canyon, 1947"), but sometimes you find really funny, revealing, emotional, surprising notes that transform the photo from something usual and kind of anonymous into something amazing and really personal. I'm putting together a book of my finds called Voices from the Other Side, but I figured I'd share some with our readers as well just to see what everyone thinks. (I posted another small batch -- of wartime photos -- back on July 4th.)
One thing I've found a lot of is photos where people have written deprecating things -- usually about themselves -- on the back. "I look so fat here!" is a shockingly common theme; I guess people were as concerned with their weight (and as self-conscious about pictures of themselves) fifty and sixty years ago as they are today. I want to share some of these with you, not so much to laugh at (although they are funny) but to demonstrate how little our attitudes about ourselves have changed over the years. I'll start with one that I think pretty much sums it up:
When there are two people in the frame, like in the picture above, you have to wonder which of them hated the picture enough to write on it.
My shadow isn't too bad to look at. Ha!
These are hideous of Emmet & me. Wish I were as photogenic as the dog.
Why doesn't anyone call their nose a "beak" anymore? I'm going to bring it back.
I'm not as fat as I look here, it's the terrycloth pajamas over my bathing skirt plus wind.
(I love the background here -- back the 20s there was really only one kind of car you could buy, so that's what everyone had!)
A good ad for Ovaltine. See how fat I'm getting?
(Ovaltine ads, you may or may not remember, featured a lot of chubby-cute children. And just for the record, I don't see at all how fat she's getting. These people would've been shocked -- shocked! -- to see the size of our waistlines today.)
I just have to quit eating and work hard.
Sheesh ... ladies, you look fine!
I can't imagine ol "pigs guts" wrote this on his own picture -- but you never know. Then again, I have a feeling that the lady in the next picture did write her caption.
There are also lots of pictures out there of people eating, with things like "me with my mouth full -- AS USUAL" written on the back. Like this one:
This one's so sad and plain it's almost heartbreaking:
Don't feel bad, lady -- passport photos never look good:
I can't tell if this guy is making a face or he really looks like this:
Some people just have trouble posing:
We've all felt this way from time to time:
This last one is amazing -- I've never seen anyone go to such lengths to hide their face in a picture.
FRONT: I came out terrible so I put ink on my face and scratched it off.
BACK: This one came out terrible don't show it to any one.
Avoid unsightly ring stains on your coffee table with this delightful selection of coasters:
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1. FLOPPY DISKS; $22.79
Floppy disks are not obsolete—at least in your living room area.
Old School starred Luke Wilson as Mitch Martin, an attorney who—after catching his girlfriend cheating, and through some real estate and bitter dean-related circumstances—becomes the leader of a not-quite-official college fraternity. Along with his fellow thirtysomething friends Bernard (Vince Vaughn) and newlywed Frank (Will Ferrell), they end up having to fight for their right to maintain their status as a party-loving frat on campus.
The film, which was released 15 years ago today, marked Vaughn’s return to major comedies and Ferrell’s first major starring role after seven years on Saturday Night Live. Here are some facts about the movie for everyone, but particularly for my boy, Blue.
1. THE IDEA ORIGINATED WITH AN AD GUY.
Writer-director Todd Phillips was talking to a friend of his from the advertising industry named Court Crandall one day. Crandall had seen and enjoyed Phillips's movie Frat House (1998) and told his director buddy, “You know what would be funny is a movie about older guys who start a fraternity of their own.” After being told by Phillips to write it, he presented Phillips with a “loose version” of the finished product.
2. SOME OF THE FRAT SHENANIGANS WERE REAL.
While Crandall received the story credit for Old School, Phillips and Scot Armstrong received the credit for writing the script. Armstrong put his own college fraternity experiences into the script. “We were in Peoria, Illinois, so it was up to us to entertain ourselves," Armstrong shared in the movie's official production notes. "A lot of ideas for Old School came from things that really happened. When it was cold, everyone would go stir crazy and it inspired some moments of brilliance. Of course, my definition of ‘brilliance' might be different from other people's.”
3. IVAN REITMAN HELPED OUT.
Ivan Reitman, director of Stripes and Ghostbusters, was an executive producer on the film. Phillips and Armstrong wrote and rewrote every day for two months at Reitman’s house, an experience Phillips described as comedy writing “boot camp.”
4. THE STUDIO DIDN’T WANT VINCE VAUGHN.
It didn’t seem to make a difference to DreamWorks that Phillips and Armstrong had written the role of Bernard with Vince Vaughn in mind—the studio didn't want him. After his breakout success in Swingers, Vaughn had taken roles in dramas like the 1998 remake of Psycho. “So when Todd Phillips wanted me for Old School, the studio didn’t want me,” Vaughn toldVariety in 2015. “They didn’t think I could do comedy! They said, ‘He’s a dramatic actor from smaller films.’ Todd really had to push for me.”
5. RECYCLED SHOTS OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY WERE USED.
The film was mainly shot on the Westwood campus of UCLA. The aerial shots of the fictitious Harrison University, however, were of Harvard; they had been shot for Road Trip (2000).
6. VINCE VAUGHN FANS MIGHT RECOGNIZE THE CHURCH.
In the film, Frank gets married at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, California. Vaughn and Owen Wilson were in that same church two years later for Wedding Crashers (2005).
7. WILL FERRELL SCARED MEMBERS OF A 24-HOUR GYM.
Frank’s streaking scene was shot on a city street. As Ferrell remembered it, one of the storefronts was a 24-hour gym with Stairmasters and treadmills in the window. “I was rehearsing in a robe, and all these people are in the gym, watching me. I asked one of the production assistants, ‘Shouldn’t we tell them I’m going to be naked?’ Sure enough, I dropped my robe and there were shrieks of pure horror. After the first take, nobody was at the window anymore. I took that as a sign of approval.”
8. FERRELL REALLY WAS NAKED.
Ferrell justified it by saying it showed his character falling off the wagon. “The fact that it made sense was the reason I was really into doing it, and why I was able to commit on that level," Ferrell toldthe BBC. "If it was just for the sake of doing a crazy shot, then I don't think it makes sense.” Still, Ferrell needed some liquid courage, and was intimidated by the presence of Snoop Dogg.
9. ROB CORDDRY WAS NOT NAKED, BUT HE STILL HAD TO SIGN AWAY HIS NUDITY RIGHTS.
Old School marked the first major film role for Rob Corddry, who at the time was best known as a correspondent for The Daily Show. He had a jewel bag around his private parts for his nude scene, but his butt made it into the final cut. He had to sign a nudity clause, which gave the film the right to use his naked image “in any part of the universe, in any form, even that which is not devised.”
10. SNOOP DOGG AGREED TO CAMEO SO HE COULD PLAY HUGGY BEAR IN STARSKY & HUTCH.
Phillips admitted to essentially bribing the hip-hop artist/actor, using Snoop Dogg’s desire to play the street informant in the modern movie adaptation of the classic TV show (which Phillips was also directing) to his advantage. “So when I went to him I said, 'I want you to do Huggy Bear,' he was really excited. And I said, 'Oh yeah, also will you do this little thing for me in Old School a little cameo?' So he kind of had to do it I think."
11. SNOOP WANTED TO HANG OUT WITH VINCE VAUGHN ON SET, BUT NOT LUKE WILSON.
Richard Foreman, Dreamworks
Vaughn and his friends accepted an invitation to hang out in Snoop Dogg’s trailer to play video games on the last day of shooting. Vaughn recalled seeing Luke Wilson later watching the news alone in his trailer; he had not been informed of the get-together.
12. WILSON WAS TEASED BY HIS CO-STARS.
Vaughn, Wilson, and Ferrell dubbed themselves “The Wolfpack”—years before Phillips directed The Hangover—because they would always make fun of each other. A particularly stinging exchange had Ferrell refer to Legally Blonde (which Wilson had starred in) as Legally Bland. Wilson said it didn’t make him feel great. Wilson retorted by telling Ferrell that "the transition from TV to the movies isn't a very easy one, so you might just want to keep one foot back in TV just in case this whole movie thing falls through!"
13. TERRY O’QUINN SCARED HIS SONS INTO THINKING THEY WERE TRIPPING.
Terry O’Quinn (who went on to play John Locke on Lost the following year) agreed to play Goldberg, uncredited, in what was a two-day job for him. He neglected to inform his sons he was in the movie, and when they saw it, one of them called their father. “I got a call from my sons one night, and they said, ‘What were you doing in Old School? We didn’t even know you were in it!’ They said, ‘We’re sitting there, and the first time we see you, it’s, like, in a reflection in a window. And when we saw it, and we both thought we were, like, tripping or something!’”
14. THE EARMUFFS WERE IMPROVISED.
Before filming, Vaughn worked with Ferrell to figure out their characters' backstories and how they knew each other; he credited that with helping him figure out who Bernard was, which led to several ad-libbed moments. “The earmuff scene where he swears in front of the kids, and then I tell the kid to earmuff, that all is off the cuff. But that stuff is a lot easier to do when you know who you are and your circumstances, and who your characters are,” Vaughn explained.
15. FERRELL AND VAUGHN DIDN’T LOVE A SCRIPT FOR A SEQUEL.
Armstrong had written Old School Dos in 2006, which saw the frat going to Spring Break. Ferrell said that he and Vaughn read the script but felt like they would just be “kind of doing the same thing again.” Wilson, on the other hand, was excited over the new script.