11 Variations on "Keep Calm and Carry On"

The now-famous Keep Calm and Carry On poster was produced by the British Ministry of Information in 1939, as a quintessentially British statement of what to do in the event of German invasion. The poster actually wasn't circulated at the time, and only became popular after its rediscovery at a bookstore. Among my friends, it's something of a mantra -- I know one woman who has the phrase sewn into the lining of her coat.

But enough with boring history. Let's look at some wacky variations on the poster that have appeared online. Tip for nerds: a lot of these are available as prints (and notebooks, phone covers, mouse pads, you name it) from various online vendors. Google it.

1. Keep Calm and Call Batman

I first saw this on a whiteboard at a software company. Get Commissioner Gordon on the phone!

2. Don't Panic and Carry a Towel

For all the hoopy froods in the house.

Don't Panic and Carry a Towel

3. Keep Calm and Kill It With Fire

Everyone knows The Thing can only be killed with fire. Also: winter is coming.

Keep Calm and Kill it With Fire

4. Keep Calm and Save the Princess

Mario or Zelda? You decide.

Keep Calm and Save the Princess

5. Freak Out and Call Mom

She'll want to hear what's up.

Freak Out and Call Mom

6. Stress Out and Throw Vase

This is what you do if Mom isn't picking up.

Stress Out and Throw Vase

7. Keep Calm and Have a Cuppa

A spot of tea always helps.

Keep Calm and Have a Cuppa

8. Keep Calm and Aim for the Head

Necessary advice for the coming zombie apocalypse.

Keep Calm and Aim for the Head

9. Keep Calm and Harry On

Useful while you're waiting for that damn Sorting Hat to figure you out.

Keep Calm and Harry On

10. Keep Calm and Simply Walk Into Mordor

Easy for you to say, Gandalf!

Keep Calm and Simply Walk Into Mordor

11. Run Out of Ideas and Make a Parody

Oh, internet. How self-aware you've become!

Run Out of Ideas and Make a Parody


There are zillions more in a Flickr pool devoted to this sort of thing.

Cory Doctorow, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Pop Culture
When MAD Magazine Got in Trouble for Printing Counterfeit Money
Cory Doctorow, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Cory Doctorow, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

MAD magazine has always prided itself on being a subversive, counter-culture presence. Since its founding in 1952, many celebrated comedians have credited the publication with forming their irreverent sense of humor, and scholars have noted that it has regularly served as a primer for young readers on how to question authority. That attitude frequently brought the magazine to the attention of the FBI, who kept a file on its numerous perceived infractions—like offering readers a "draft dodger" card or providing tips on writing an effective extortion letter.

The magazine's "Usual Gang of Idiots" outdid themselves in late 1967, though, when issue #115 featured what was clearly a phony depiction of U.S. currency. In addition to being valued at $3—a denomination unrecognized by the government—it featured the dim-witted face of MAD mascot Alfred E. Neuman.

The infamous $3 bill published in a 1967 issue of 'Mad' magazine
MAD Magazine

When taken at its moronic face value, there was absolutely no way anyone with any sense could have confused the bill for actual money. But what MAD hadn't accounted for was that a machine might do exactly that. Around the time of the issue's release, automated coin change machines were beginning to pop up around the country. Used in laundromats, casinos, and other places where someone needed coins rather than bills, people would feed their dollars into the unit and receive an equal amount of change in return.

At that time, these machines were not terribly sophisticated. And as a few enterprising types discovered, they didn't have the technology to really tell Alfred E. Neuman's face from George Washington's. In Las Vegas and Texas, coin unit operators were dismayed to discover that people had been feeding the phony MAD bill into the slots and getting actual money in return.

How frequently this happened isn't detailed in any source we could locate. But in 1995, MAD editor Al Feldstein, who guided the publication from its origins as a slim comic book to netting 2.7 million readers per issue, told The Comics Journal that it was enough to warrant a visit from the U.S. Treasury Department.

"We had published a three-dollar bill as some part of an article in the early days of MAD, and it was working in these new change machines which weren't as sensitive as they are now, and they only read the face," Feldstein said. "They didn't read the back. [The Treasury Department] demanded the artwork and said it was counterfeit money. So Bill [Gaines, the publisher] thought this whole thing was ridiculous, but here, take it, here's a printing of a three-dollar bill."

Feldstein later elaborated on the incident in a 2002 email interview with author Al Norris. "It lacked etched details, machined scrolls, and all of the accouterments of a genuine bill," Feldstein wrote. "But it was, however, freakishly being recognized as a one-dollar bill by the newly-introduced, relatively primitive, technically unsophisticated change machines … and giving back quarters or whatever to anyone who inserted it into one. It was probably the owner of those machines in Las Vegas that complained to the U. S. Treasury Department."

Feldstein went on to say that the government employees demanded the "printing plates" for the bill, but the magazine had already disposed of them. The entire experience, Feldstein said, was "unbelievable."

The visit didn't entirely discourage the magazine from trafficking in fake currency. In 1979, a MAD board game featured a $1,329,063 bill. A few decades later, a "twe" (three) dollar bill was circulated as a promotional item. The bills were slightly smaller than the dimensions of actual money—just in case anyone thought a depiction of Alfred E. Neuman's gap-toothed portrait was evidence of valid U.S. currency.

Getty Images
Watch 18 Minutes of Julia Louis-Dreyfus Seinfeld Bloopers
Getty Images
Getty Images

Sometimes you just need to settle in and watch professional actors cracking up, over and over. That's what we have for you today.

In the two videos below, we get a total of 18 minutes of Seinfeld bloopers, specifically focused on Julia Louis-Dreyfus. When Louis-Dreyfus cracks up, Seinfeld can't help but make it worse, goading her. It's delightful.

Sample quote (during an extended break):

Seinfeld: "We won an Emmy, you know."

Louis-Dreyfus: "Yeah, but I didn't."

Her individual Seinfeld Emmy arrived in 1996; the show started winning in 1992. But in September 2017, Louis-Dreyfus—who turns 57 years old today—set a couple of Emmy records when she won her sixth award for playing Selina Meyer on Veep.


More from mental floss studios