Wonky Type Round-up

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I can spot the issues of a counter in a bad cut of Bembo. I berate students until I see tears for the use of a bold serif (bad, bad, bad). Yet, I love wonky type. I’m not talking about über-hip hand-drawn letterforms on a gallery announcement. I’m talking about a 1965 Sprite can. There is something so happy and hopeful about wonky type. It’s spontaneous and communicates levity. This love, however, should not be taken as an excuse by any current or future student as an excuse to ignore tragic typographic choices such as ITC Garamond Bold Italic.

The Look of Love

Every year, someone pipes up about traditional publication design being dead. We are told that today’s reader views information differently and printed publications must change. If I listened to the current theory, every page should have multiple layers of information, presented in multiple typefaces, icons, and colors. A good page design should emulate a CNN screen. If I wanted to find joy in the barrage of information on a CNN or Bloomberg screen, I could take screen grabs, print them out, bind them, and put them on the coffee table.

The problem with this is pacing. Good publications are paced like film. There should be quiet moments, big explosions, close-ups, long shots, and points for contemplation. 500 pages of dense faux-information does not do this. Allen Hurlburt served as the creative director at Look Magazine from 1953 until 1971. His issues of Look are treasures. They follow a clear grid, are graceful, calm, and powerful at the same time. We’re currently designing an annual report for one of our clients. When I explained the thinking behind our direction, I simply said, “Look magazine.” I didn’t need to say anything else. Everyone said, “Yes. Exactly. Perfect.”

from the Lou Danziger collection

Beyond the Reef

Be warned, this is a travelogue post. As many of you already know, each year we go to Kona Village in Hawaii for the first week of September. This year, because the tsunami closed Kona Village, we moved next door to the Four Seasons Hualalai. I was nervous about this. We were used to seeing the same crowd at KVR and knew most of the staff. The Four Seasons seemed so fancy-pants, I was worried it would be like a week at a stuffy Westside Los Angeles restaurant.

I was wrong. Four Seasons was wonderful. I couldn’t find much online about the resort before our visit. There was the official site, and other travel sites had reviews that were typically positive, as in, “It was expensive, but worth the price.” What does that mean? I need actual facts. Of course, several people posted who clearly are never be satisfied, “I was forced to dry my own feet. I demand my feet to be dried with a young virgin’s hair.”

Now here is the lowdown if you plan on going:

  1. Get a room in the Palm Grove. It’s the no children pool area. The rooms are close to the beach, and it’s quiet and secluded.
  2. Ask for a ground floor room. They have an outdoor shower. At first, I thought, “creepy,” but it was great. I took showers and watered plants at the same time.
  3. Make sure Cody at the Palm Grove pool is there to help you. Everyone, without exception was gracious, down to earth and friendly. But, Cody had a great faculty to make us feel pampered and among good friends. He was endlessly patient with my aimless questions, and was a highlight of the stay.
  4. Eat at Pahu i`a's Surf, Sand and Stars, a barbecue on the beach. No, it’s not like an old macaroni and cheese, ancient fried chicken buffet. The appetizer section, sushi, and lobster alone are worth the price.
  5. Go to Safeway or Costco for booze. Yes this may seem rather low-rent, but why spend enormous amounts of money for cocktails when you can make your own.
  6. Take a good hike up around the golf course every day. Otherwise you will eat a great amount of food and get fat.
  7. Eat at the Resident’s Beach House. The Mai Tai is actually a rum Big Gulp.

For over a decade we went to Kona Village, and I thought moving on to Four Seasons Hualalai was treason. It would be loud, with snobby guests and staff. It wasn’t in the least. The Hualalai staff went above and beyond to create a perfect spot. And to quote Patrick Henry, “If this be treason, make the most of it!” (Pretty impressive to combine a founding father and a Four Seasons in Hawaii.)

Tomorrow's Child

I have a t-shirt with the logo for Seabase Alpha. This was a fictional place reached via the “hydro-lator” at EPCOT’s Living Seas. It’s gone now, replaced with a child friendly Nemo adventure. I like having a shirt from a fictional place within a fictional space at a themed fictitious place. When I go to EPCOT, I spend time looking for the remnants of the original EPCOT. When it opened in 1982, it was clearly about a forward thinking wonderful future. Technology would solve all problems. All nations would live together sharing native foods and shopping experiences. Obviously, I gravitate toward the areas that still talk about this. For example, the truly unattractive Odyssey Restaurant building is original. But sitting in front of this empty space is only fun for a short amount of time.

It may be hard to look at EPCOT in 1982 with a sense of nostalgia. You may be saying, “Handel Gothic? Chrome? Red carpeting?” And, yes, in addition to my clearly questionable taste in color palettes, I like these things. I won’t be redoing the living room with a red, white, blue, and silver theme, but the hexagonal brown tiles are quite enticing.

For additional EPCOT wonder check out one of my favorite sites, passport2dreams.

A Preachy Post That Will Piss Some People Off

When I was younger, I strongly believed in the ethos of compassion and help. As I’ve aged, this has worn away. Often, I now find myself muttering, “damned idiots, dammit, damn, damn.” It’s not particularly eloquent, but it’s my best. As an example, I am completely supportive of design for good, and positive social change. Design is a sharp tool and should be used to make a better world. I do not, however, believe design for commerce is bad and should be hidden away in shame. Too often, we can fall into the trap of only taking on events that promote design for good. But the subtext here is that the work for commerce is less relevant. This only communicates the idea that we are less worthy if we are not designing websites for recycled DIY bamboo huts. Nothing is less true.

As I’ve said, before, we have the chance to make life better for others with every project (assuming you are not designing neo-Nazi newsletters). If I do a job well, the client does better. The employees keep their jobs. They put braces on their kids’ teeth. The orthodontist can send his kids to college. This is no less positive than promoting social causes.

Saul Bass was a designer who understood the balance of design for good, commerce, and cultural change. When I am feeling especially cranky, I am reminded of Saul’s generous nature. On our first day in the studio back in 1994, the first phone call was from Saul. “Congratulations,” he said, and, “What can I do for you two?” He didn’t need to do this. But this encouragement gave us the confidence to plow through the most difficult times. If Saul Bass considered us worthy of a phone call, we couldn’t be that bad. Now, I try to do the same. I do this not because I feel honor-bound or think it will absolve me of previous crimes. That small act made a huge impact on Noreen and myself. So rather than worrying about designing only for Greenpeace, we try to help in smaller day-to-day ways.

Shout how-now to Mrs O'Leary's cow

Chicago is one of my favorite cities. Beside the great food, friendly people, and wonderful neighborhoods, several of my favorite people live there. Greg and Pat Samata, Dana Arnett, Jamie Koval, Bart Crosby, and Ric Valicenti are designers I deeply admire, and who are just plain fun to hang with. I assume it’s a Chicago thing that eliminates any snotty, diva-like behavior, and creates good down to earth attitudes.

Each year, Greg and Pat present the Cusp Conference. Cusp isn’t a design conference. It’s about big ideas. It’s been described as, “inspirational, funny, thought-provoking, eye-opening, informative, inspirational, fascinating, humbling, soothing, shocking, awesome, inspirational, unbelievable, wise, touching, smart, healthy, honest, confusing, inspirational, affirming, creative and just friggin' amazing.”

Last year, Greg invited me to talk about whatever I wanted. I’d been on the road speaking about AdamsMorioka and our ideas for so long I wanted to do something different. A couple of months before, TypeCon asked me to speak about the typography of Disneyland. I had a great time pulling this together and it was extremely well received at TypeCon. So I expanded on the idea and told Greg I wanted to talk about design at Disneyland through an optimistic lens. So far so good.

I’ve been speaking publicly for 20 years. I think I have a pretty good grasp of what an audience will respond to. Sometimes I get it wrong. When I spoke in Norfolk for AIGA Hampton Roads in Virginia, I started by talking about my family’s Virginian roots, and put up a list of family names in case anyone in the audience was a cousin. I didn’t realize the family names were the same as the street names in Norfolk. So it came off as, “Hi, I’m fancy. I’m from Beverly Hills. I go to the Academy Awards. My family is fancy. You’re not.” This was not my intention. I’m actually kind of a goof ball.

The Cusp Disneyland Design lecture wasn’t received as well as the TypeCon lecture. Now there could be several reasons why: it is a dumb lecture, I’m dumb, I came off as smug, or I looked fat. But, I had a wonderful time doing it. I had time to see Pat and Greg, and had a great lunch with Greg and Ricky Wurman. And I went to Chicago.

Such a Tool

I’ve been trying to decide why I can’t sit still on the weekend. I could sit by the pool and read magazines or history books. I could watch endless hours of I Love Lucy. But I don’t. I relentlessly weed the cactus garden. I touch up paint throughout the house. I reorganize the garage (as my brother says, “reorganize” is the scary word here). I scrub the ceramic tile around the pool. A friend told me I do these things, not because I have an industrious Puritan streak, but as a way to sublimate emotions. This makes sense to me. Unfortunately, I’m not particularly aware of my emotions, so I have no idea what I’m sublimating.

As I pondered this last weekend, I noticed that the tools were a mess. Some were in the garage, some were in the laundry room, and others were in the rumpus room. So I took over one of the closets in the foyer. This closet started life on the 1955 blueprints as a “powder room.” When we first moved in, the closet had a little vanity and mirror, with lambs applying lipstick wallpaper. I guess the idea was to stop in before leaving the house to check makeup application. I desperately tried to save the silence of the lambs wallpaper, but it was falling apart. I installed pegboard, hooks for extension cords, mounting to hang the ladder, and painted everything. I didn’t labor over the paint color; I simply took some extra paint from the paint cabinet. I put a rolling Metroshelf cart in there with shelves for chargers and bins of nails and screws. Now I have easy access to all the tools. No more trudging all over shouting, “Where in the hell is the mallet?”

Mule Trail

I’m often asked, “Sean, how do you manage to have only cool projects?” I could say, “Well, I’m just that wonderful,” but that probably is not the response desired. The truth is that every project has the possibility of being great. Sounds corny, but it’s true. I’ve interviewed young designers who have told me they were only interested in cultural organizations or social causes as clients. To me that sounds worse than working at a poultry plant. I like the diversity of clients in many areas. And I am adamantly opposed to the idea that good design is only design for cultural organizations or social causes.

A good example of a project that might be deemed by someone too highfalutin, “utilitarian, and not my kind of thing,” is the Mechanized Mules of Victory booklet designed by Paul Rand. This is a publication designed in 1942 for the AutoCar Company. AutoCar produced armored vehicles for the war effort. To our highfalutin designer, this would be a double whammy: armored vehicles and an actual corporation. Rand created a book that is as raw and functional. It’s absolutely correct for the subject. The American Typewriter typeface speaks to DIY, mechanized content. The banal images are transformed by the use of silhouettes, repeating images, and solid shapes. It’s a simple two-color printing job with a spiral binding. The binding references notebooks, and technical plans. The composition is rigid and unbending, but the pagination of the pages keeps the book alive.

The next time you’re asked to work on a dog kennel catalogue, or dental tool brochure, don’t say, “I’m too good for this. Who has the telephone number for Greenpeace?” Make something wonderful.

The Rape of the Bear Logo

Typically, I don’t comment on design or events post-twentieth century. Today, however, I set this aside. I’m sure many of you have already received the AIGA Action Alert regarding the copyright infringement paradise logogarden.com. Bill Gardner writes beautifully about this at rockpaperink.com. He covers the issues far more eloquently than I could and clearly took notice of yesterday’s post on catchy headlines, “Love thy Logo, Charlatan, Huckster, Moron, Thief.” Bravo to Bill. Yes, logogarden.com, is a remarkable and audacious example of thievery. It’s also a fantastic teaching tool. Teaching why plagiarism is wrong is often like explaining calculus to a housecat. Some get it, others keep repeating, “but I never saw the original CBS eye logo.”

I’m especially proud that one of my best friends has the logo that is best represented. Michael Vanderbyl’s logo for the California Conservation Center is a classic example of flawless craft, message, and function. It’s one of those logos I could never imagine creating. My mind isn’t wired that intelligently. Obviously, the folks at the logo garden feel the same, and have cleverly re-used it as often as possible.

Following AIGA Executive Director, Ric Grefé, here is action all of us should take:

We believe the most powerful response we can make as a community is to demonstrate the profession’s outrage and the threat of clients’ legal action, if the rights to the design belong to the client. Several legal actions are already in process.

Your course of action, immediately:

Check logogarden.com for your own work using the “try it free” button.

If your creative work has been misappropriated, contact Williams (see below), contact your lawyer, contact your client and have your client contact his/her lawyer to make it clear that this is a violation of copyright law.

If your work is not on the site, contact Williams to make it clear that this represents illegal, unethical behavior; that it fails the basic test of decency, common sense or business acumen; and that it also exposes his customers to liabilities for copyright infringement.

Send a copy of your correspondence to copyright@aiga.org.

Three possible addresses to use for your correspondence:

LogoGarden, LLC
1011 Centre Road, Suite 322
Wilmington, DE 19805

John Williams
230 Halmerton Drive
Franklin, TN 37069

Email: service@logogarden.com

This is an issue that affects us all and is such an egregious case of violating creative rights that we must take action.




Drag Me to Hell

Before TMZ and online gossip sites, there was Star magazine Scandals. Noreen claims I speak like I’m in a 1950s low-end movie. This may be true. From what I’ve been told, “Swell,” is no longer used in everyday language. I’d much rather speak in Star magazine headlines, “I’m not under thirty. I’m not an alcoholic. I don’t need another Hollywood bar designer get-together.” The verbiage is matched only by the design. This is proof that modernism failed. Less is less here, and once is never enough.

Is there a grid? Who cares when Fergie romps topless with her Texas millionaire as her children watch? Are there typographic consistencies? “Princess Caroline’s husband zooms to his doom. Kiss Papa goodbye,” does not need a common type size. The Scandal issue is the design equivalent of “Shock and Awe.” Every page is a barrage of information screaming at the highest volume. Every fact is extreme.

This is how all copy should be written, regardless of the client. The exhibition, Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects, at MOMA should be renamed, “Stalker Machines Terrorize and Attack Innocent Hipsters.” The New York Times should reconsider headlines such as “Obama Administration Calls for Syrian President to Step Down” to “Pres Lashes Out in Furious Rage at Evil Tyrant.” See how much more exciting the news could be.

Party Like It's 1968, part 1

Last week I managed to crash this blog. I don’t know how, but Noreen said I did, so it’s probably true. In rebuilding the cabin, I found the year 1968 to appear more than any other. Now, a good editor would say, “Well, then, let’s make sure we cover other years.” But I say, “Let’s have more.” So prepare yourself.

I don’t know why 1968 shows up so much. It was a pivotal year in American culture. The Cultural Revolution was at its height. 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, and Barbarella were released and depicted three distinctly different visions of the future. The Democratic National Convention in Chicago became a firestorm. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy were assassinated. And Richard Nixon was elected President.

In 1968, design had a wonderful combination of smart ideas mixed with a bolder palette and less rigid approach. On the whole, in design, this was the last gasp of the “simple big idea” school. By 1970, design had adopted expressive illustration and more intuitive solutions. If you think I had a personal connection to 1968, like high school graduation, you are wrong. I was four. We lived in the Haight in San Francisco, I was in an experimental co-op nursery school, and the first movie I remember seeing was Barbarella.

Pistol Packin' Mama

Every family has tales of courage and great achievements. Mine is no different. But it’s interesting that everyone ignores the bad. If you spend time at a Thanksgiving with us, you will hear about my grandmother shooting the biggest bear in Colorado, how Rev. Henry Fry introduced the Emancipation Bill in Virginia in 1785, and how John Christian Bullitt created the city charter for Philadelphia. You won’t hear stories about Captain William Tucker's retaliation for the 1622 Jamestown Indian massacre. He negotiated a peace treaty and then poisoned the liquor at the treaty celebration. This killed about 200 Powhatan Indians. Nobody uses this as a nighttime story.

One of my favorite ancestors is Lucy Meriwether Lewis Marks.

Lucy was born in Albemarle County, Virginia in 1752. In his book Lewis and Clark: Partners in Discovery, John Bakeless, describes Lucy as “a Virginia lady of the patrician breed, a benevolent family autocrat, with a character so sharp and definite that her twentieth-century descendents still refer to her as Grandma Marks.” The stories, filtered down to me are about her intellect and undaunted courage. She owned a large library, which was unusual for a woman at that time. She was an herb doctor which was probably better than doctors who believed in "bleeding.". And she was tough. Supposedly, during the Revolutionary War, she saved the plantation by wielding a rifle and driving away a party of drunken British soldiers. And, like my grandmother and her bear story, she was a great marks-woman. A tale often told is about a group of men who left Locus Hill on a deer hunt. They returned at the end of the day empty handed and exhausted. Fortunately, while they stalked the woods, Lucy shot a large buck in her front yard, and it was dressed and cooked when they returned.

Lucy’s life was filled with war, deaths, marriages, and scandal. Her son, Meriwether Lewis died, supposedly, from suicide. Until her death she maintained that he had been murdered. As an aside, most of the family continues to believe in the foul-play theory. John Hastings Marks, another son, died at a “retreat” for the mentally ill. Even after these deaths, and the deaths of her two husbands, Lucy continued to ride horseback, serve as an herb doctor, and run the farm. She was 85 when she died in 1837. Her stories have become part of the family yarn. Strangely, there are quite a few stories that involve women and guns. Hmmm.

Many thanks to Christine Adreae’s website on Lucy Merwiether Marks

Family tree courtesy of Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies © 2009 Jefferson LibraryMonticello

The Post About a Book With a Super Long Title That Was Shortened to an Acronym That Also Has a Cool Design Using a Great Cut of Didot (Designed by Firmin Didot around 1784).

Robert M. Smith, designer: 41ADNY62, cover

The 41st Annual of Advertising and Editorial Art & Design of the Art Director’s Club of New York is an incredibly long title. If I were faced with this, I would suggest making it longer by adding multiple adjectives as in, The Unbelievable 41st Annual of Glorious and Mind-blowing Advertising and Kick-Ass Editorial Art & Design of the Grooviest Art Director’s Club of the Center of the Universe, New York. But, clearly, the editor in 1962 did not have the foresight and genius to do this. So it was shortened to a simple acronym, 41ADNY62. Which is okay if you like to read license plates.

Title aside, the book design is sublime. I have worked on many book projects, only to realize that I am shamelessly appropriating from this annual. If I were smart I would simply steal the design, claim it as my own, and deny and wrong doing. One of my downfalls is, unfortunately, a commitment to ethics. So I admire the book, and design something of my own. If you have no ethics, here it is, in all its beautiful Firmin Didot-esque glory.

Yes, Master. I will do your bidding.

The UCLA Extension Masters of Design program was conceived and managed by InJu Sturgeon. InJu had the genius idea to elevate the utilitarian course catalogue covers working with some of the world’s best designers. Paul Rand designed the first cover in 1990. The program soon became the coveted assignment. Other designers including Saul Bass, Paula Scher, Woody Pirtle, Ivan Chermayeff, and Michael Bierut have tackled the same assignment: education, Los Angeles, the season, and extension. In 1998, we were honored to be asked to design our first cover. This was daunting, solving the same assignment as some of our heroes. Michael Vanderbyl was the encouraging voice for us, and convinced us to have fun. The series could easily have become a hodge-podge of crazed egos. But InJu’s remarkable skill handling designers consistently leads to some of the best work. When working with InJu, it is immediately clear that there is no room for diva-esque behavior. Hence my typical screaming, demanding, and abusive approach was not welcome. And I have never net anyone so adept at motivating me to do better.


A good friend of mine, the amazing designer Jim Cross, is a great aficionado of traditional Hawaiian music. Jim has impeccable taste. His taste in classic, authentic Hawaiian music is educated and refined. I, on the other hand, have plebian taste in many things. I’m just as happy at In-n-Out Burger as a 5 star steakhouse. My taste in Hawaiian music is no less low-end.

If you want to experience the truly relaxing Hawaiian sounds, check out Hawaii Calls. This was a program broadcast in front of the banyan tree at the Moana Hotel on Waikiki. On weekends, I tune the Pandora station to this and relax with rum based beverages. If you enjoy chanting, ukulele, drums, and the slack-key guitar (and who doesn’t), you’ll love this Hawaiian music. If you have a problem with the soothing sounds of the islands, buy the records for the covers alone. At least you will be anxious, mean, and angry while enjoying the album art.

The Dead Parents Years

For some odd reason that I have yet to understand, being a parent on television in the 1960s was life threatening. Perhaps it was a generation gap rejection of a paternal society, or a way to save money on actors, but there were a whole lot o’ dead parents on-air. Family Affair, which sounds suspicious at best, was about two incredibly sedated orphaned children. They lived with their “uncle” and his “butler” in a New York high-rise. I don’t know what happened to the parents, but the kids seemed well adjusted to their death, or didn’t care. And what’s with Mr. French, the butler?

The Courtship of Eddie’s Father was about Eddie’s life after his mother died, his dad, and their “house-keeper” Mrs. Livingston. That Mrs. Livingston seemed very submissive to Eddie’s father, if you catch my drift. My Three Sons was about three sons, Fred MacMurray and their “housekeeper” “uncle” Charlie. Their mother also was dead.  Once again, nobody ever mentioned her or was upset. It was like a Stephen King novel where everyone is keeping a dark secret.

Another example from a slightly earlier time is Bachelor Father. John Forsythe is niece Kelly’s uncle. After her parents are killed, she goes to live with her "uncle" and his “houseboy”, Peter. John Forsythe tries to keep Kelly out of trouble at Beverly Hills High.

In the end, there are a lot of dead parents, children who don’t care, and suspicious household “help.” Either the kids are complicit in the deaths, or they are cold and heartless. And the household help is there for “other” reasons that cannot be shown on-air.


Gifts of the Gods

When you are a designer of any kind, interior, graphic, industrial, whatever, you receive really awful gifts. This sounds horrible and ungrateful. It’s the gifts your parents, grandparents, and cousins give you. We’ve all been in the situation when you’re given a lovely gift wrapped in the “cool” wrapping paper from the Container Store. When you discover it’s a remarkably over-designed swoopy lady-shaped wine corkscrew in lime green, you must express surprise and incredible happiness. It’s assumed that, as a designer, you must like the groovy designed things. I bypass this problem by telling my family to focus on gifts of cactus and American flags.

I did, however, receive one of my best gifts for my birthday this year. The Disney Gallery at Disneyland is holding an exhibition of Mary Blair. The studies for the lost attraction, Thunder Mesa, are truly genius. And the renderings for the Grand Canyon Concourse tiles are possibly the best color palette ever conceived. These two birthday gifts are now in my kitchen. I considered putting them downstairs in the rumpus room so they wouldn’t fade. That would be no fun. And that’s a bad path. Soon I will be closing all the blinds, draping furniture, and storing art in a dark space, like my grandparents.


All the joy that love can bring

If you’ve ever seen the movie, The Sandpiper, you will recall Elizabeth Taylor playing an artist living at the beach at Big Sur. She spends her time making abstract seascape kinds of paintings. Her studio is cluttered with driftwood-like art. It sounds like fun to live at the beach on the California coast, feel moody, and collect driftwood. It must have been a wonderful time in 1965 when poor artists could buy beach houses and wander the dunes. In 1954, the Pasadena Art Museum held the first of a series of exhibitions celebrating design in California. Graphic design wasn’t included, and there seemed to be a prevalence of handcrafted ceramics, and woody furniture. It was all very natural in a California eco-friendly pre-hippie way. Of course, now I would love to own some of these items. Or I could move to the beach and begin making ceramics and driftwood mobiles.


So Fine

Yesterday, the office surprised me with lunch from Dinah’s Chicken. We’ve covered this before, but I’m obsessed with the Dinah’s bucket. It is the most incredible piece of packaging design in the world. Herbert Bayer be damned, that bucket kicks ass. Maybe I love it because it justified decisions we made when we designed Mr. Cecil’s Ribs. We did this before we were aware of the remarkable Dinah’s bucket. Noreen was the creative lead. I love how she combined a southern decorative vernacular with minimalism. Some may think it lacking in high-end classic aesthetics, but it’s a rib restaurant, not The Four Seasons. Which leads to the Dinah’s bucket. It’s a fried chicken joint in Glendale, and the bucket doesn’t pretend to be anything else. How often can you truly say, “So many typefaces, so little space,” and be correct?

Car Trouble

Today is my birthday, so it seemed fitting to post something from the year of my birth, 1964. Yes, 1964 had the New York World’s Fair, Mary Poppins, LBJ’s landslide election, and the arrival of the Beatles at JFK. But more importantly, Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte was released. This was a follow-up to the hugely successful Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. Bette Davis plays an aged southern debutante who is nuts. Olivia de Havilland is her kind and gentle cousin who has come to care for her. After de Havilland throws the back-woods maid, Agnes Moorehead, down the stairs. It becomes clear she’s not so gentle.

Charlotte is great to watch if you need tips on life. If the maid is to annoying, shove her down the stairs. If you are driving and your passenger won’t stop yammering, pull over and smack them senseless. I won’t ruin the rest of the film, but there are many other great suggestions including how to use an ax properly, what to do with heavy planters on the balcony, and how to dress after driving a relative insane.