All posts by Egonzo

Christmas with Barnum

It’s Christmas Eve 2019. I am sitting at the kitchen table with a stack of books by or about P.T. Barnum. Hopefully this break will allow me to finish the full draft of my dissertation. Barnum and the Penny Press is Chapter 3 of 4. There is also a huge back of books next to the chair. I am usually at my desk in the library, but it is closed today and tomorrow so I am attempting to attack the futility of working from home and getting back into the habit of pushing out short posts here as writing warmups. That helps me get into the flow anyway.

Compiling Barnumalia is an easy task. Separating it out to his pre-circus days requires some work. It’s basically the prologue or shorter first chapters that get you to the big Barnum and Bailey portion of his later life. Even the Peabody’s Improbably History has Peabody and Sherman visiting Barnum under the Big Top.

The most interesting thing is just how may different genres pull from or include Barnum. This shouldn’t be too surprising given that he is the patron saint for inventors, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and anyone thinking they’ve made it on their own.

Then tracing out the stories that have been told and retold without checking original sources cuts into words per minute and leads to enormous elephant holes that require parking in the appendix to follow up later (and in case the weblink disappears sometime in the future).

Once the Barnum’s get to New York, the rest, as they say, is history.  Unfortunately museum histories have distanced themselves from Barnum’s American museum and Cultural Histories of performance jump straight into the center ring leaving his time exhibition Joice Heth to those studying “contours of race relations in the antebellum North” like Benjamin Reiss’ The Showman and the Slave. Tom Thumb and Jenny Lind usually get separate chapters, before the Museum burn down for the second time in 1865.

There is still plenty to do as I start to finally get words on the page and build some momentum towards the end of this madness, but this seemed like an excellent time to compile some multimedia worth revisiting when I am finally on the other side of all this and retrofitting new stuff in the document to make it a book. And links, in the case of considering Barnum’s mansions.

There is a lot to learn studying Barnum’s life, and it is a spectacular example to remind us all that no one is entirely good or bad, entirely ethical or unethical and that people who live long enough can change, and that the past is a foreign country.  I do know that I would love to get a glimpse of Barnum’s American Museum in the 1850s.

As popular culture demands Barnum’s biopic was a bit over the top with some embelishments that can surely be described as “Barnumesque,” so he would have likely approved.

For those wishing a more accurate portrayal of Barnum there is this old documentary from 1995 which has an excellent accompanying book which is steadily going up in price on Amazon.

you can even hear Barnum’s voice recorded on Edison’s early wax cylinders:

One of the big takeaways I have here, and what someone referred to as a “hot take” is that, much in agreement with Bluford Adams’ book title E Pluribus Barnum: Barnum should be on American money.

and, you’ve made it this far it is only fair to reward you with the Honest Trailer version of the 2017 smash musical The Greatest Showman: 

I’ll bet there were some amazing Christmas Shows there at Ann and Broadway. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone, and may you all have a safe and prosperous 2020.

Ad Assassins

The internet, and social media specifically, is a virtual ever-changing minefield of people vying for your money. Earlier this week I saw what has got to be the most ridiculous ad I have ever seen and decided to spend the rest of the week gathering shots of the different storefronts that have my on their algorithm.

November 5th and this comes across my feed:

At first I was like, oh, yes, more of those tiny jackets that don’t actually fit. This is basically me every time I take a chance and order something online anyway so maybe they were moving to truth in advertising? Then I saw his feet. I mean, how extra is this?

As soon as I started talking about them on Facebook, other ads exploded. And this is using screengrabs, not sharing their sponsored posts. These I had seen before, but on another site. My favorite part is that for alternate views of the vests they just mirror the images.

That put me to thinking about all the times I saw the same jacket in another storefront ad. I mean all these are coming from the same place and their cost and shift is all due to how much someone wants to spend on advertising and a digital storefront with an American address that drop ships your order from China.

For instance you can see the same Sesame Street skinned Grover blazer below at the GodiorStore  and Therys.Online.  It’s not just the same garment, it is the same stock photo, and this happens a LOT.

The rest of this is just going to be a collection of the ads that hit my feed from Tues-Friday November 5-8, 2019. These are distinct grabs and any of the duplicate ads I saw (and there were many) were ignored (just scrolled past, if this was an actual study it would be longer and I would hide ads to adjust the algorithms as it went on).

I’ll also add some commentary as this progresses, and try to update if I ever get an answer to this.

Vests came in again, but from a different company than before, same patterns, styles, and models though

Some more of the too-small-to-button blazers again and this time our en pointe friend is selling them for Cicikiss.Fashion. This seems like a good time to remind you never to confuse “fashion” for “style.” “Fashion” in marketing is a lot like “collectible,” anything marketed as either usually isn’t.

And at least two of the suits in the Chisells ad below are the same image as the ones CiciKiss is selling.  Three of them are same suit. 

Here’s GodiorStore again with a single plaid over a turtleneck, at least it buttons.

Wait a minute! There is headless turtleneck plaid man in a ad!


And Fancypeek wants to sell me the one in center of of the Bellapinlove ad.


Secondcamp sponsored this ad

with the exact same half-faced man stock photo JessClub_onlinestore sponsored.

Novaowo and Growiceofficial sharing images and emojis.

And this one seems to be standing on its own for now, though the shop looks familiar, like Fresh Prince living in Benson’s house, and it gets included for the sophisticated men’s clothing moniker of Fasionroro.

Cloudstyle started throwing out heavy patterns and African style on instagram

While facebook moved into Stacy Adams territory with MDZ Fashion

And I wonder is this place uses the same herd of plastic cows that Hot Topic does.

Time for double-breasted coats to come back around, it was a new day after all. 

Wait, what? “Double Row Button” is double-breasted trademarked now? And when has that ever stopped these companies?!

and  here’s one for shoes!

and the suit from The Joker?

This one is interesting because I followed it up to see if they had vests. They do,  just not the one pictured here, because why would they? 

I am going to finish this up with these last two. This has been about 2/3 of the images that I pulled and stores that I noted and I can’t even keep up with them at this point, and it is just more examples of the same thing so there is no use in beating a dead horsehair blazer.

This one was of particular interest because I might one day wish to add a nice periwinkle linen suit to my current summer collection of more than enough Colonel Tom Wolfe Twain suits that I usually wear. The description for this also caught my attention as one of the things I do in the History of Science is note how scientists are portrayed, and this after hours lab narrative her to sell the coat is a great illustration of that. Is is science because it is Bill Nye  blue and there is a bowtie? I have no idea, but the shift to sell men’s clothing with an emotive response to expository writing is fascinating. Scientifique, even.

If you’ve made it this far, here is a bonus payoff that I myself benefitted from following this nonsense. I caught what I thought was a robe on an instagram ad that turned out to be a frock coat that was custom made by some talented as hell tailors and clothiers in Denver, Colorado. There is no way I will ever be able to afford anything from them, but I would love to have several.

I’ll bet they could even make the pieces that I was looking for when all this nonsense started. For the record it was a summer frock coat and wardrobe that can be seen in the trailer for he forthcoming Dr. Dolittle film staring Robert Downey Jr. which also led back to searching the original 1967 Rex Harrison one.  So at least give AJ Machete a follow on instagram, if you like to see creativity and brilliant with cloth, you’d be hard pressed to find better.


A couple years back I had the opportunity to get an early tour of the Navigating the West : George Caleb Bingham and the River on its stay at the Amon Carter Museum of American  Art in Fort Worth, Texas. There is a little writeup on that exhibit and my first visit to the museum here. What fascinated me even more than getting to see Bingham’s sketches and art mostly all in one place was the inclusion of the giant panorama painting of a trip down the Mississippi River. I am still awed by this thing and it has its own in depth analysis here. It started down a tributary of my own dissertation work as I discovered more and more about this particular panorama and the genre of panoramas in general.  They were ubiquitous in Antebellum America and traversed to and from England and Europe. They were full fanfares and had lectures and music accompanist for the full adventure effect.

Continue reading Panorama-rama

Red (long)Dead Redemption 2

Dinosaurs, or at least paleontology, makes an appearance in the newest and hottest video game out by RockStar games.  There are a gazillion things to do and move through in it but I want to uncover a tiny piece of the fun. SPOILER warning for anyone who wants to play blind, there are video walkthroughs and maps ahead.

Continue reading Red (long)Dead Redemption 2

Under the Tenfluence: Books

I finally tracked down my last missing Prehistoric Zoobooks, but have not had the time to put them in a proper post, it is still on the list though. I am working more on my dissertation at the moment and with a new routine at home due to the arrival of my son at the end of June things are a bit up in the air with anything that isn’t deadline/need-based driven. To that end though here is something that I am retrofitting for a full post that was done in a series on Facebook. It was one of those “10_____ that influenced (or some other verb) me” chain tags that go around from time to time. I usually ignore them, but this one came an a time of reflection on my own habits and what I was writing about early American readership so I decided to take something flippant and approach it in a way I could use it for a blog post. In fact, for people starting out blogging or online journaling these types of lists may provide a nice ease into the pool.

Continue reading Under the Tenfluence: Books


I was talking to a friend about paleoart a couple weeks ago. We were talking about how the first thing you absorb about something is generally what establishes your head canon and makes it hard to change. I realized that a good portion of mine came from two-page spreads in Zoobooks like this one:

This one credited to Michael Woods.

Continue reading Zoobooks

Summer at the Museum

I was originally just going to throw some fun screen grabs from these early time machine  Phineas and Ferb episodes up on the Paleo Porch facebook page and be done. While going through the episodes for the shots though I noticed there was more to say and show about the museum than just the “back-in-time-with-dinosaurs” trope.

Continue reading Summer at the Museum