1. Attack of the Swirly Design Things!

    HERE’S a seemingly insignificant and arguably subtle phenomenon I’ve noticed for about the last eight years, and you have too, but you weren’t sure you should say anything. You thought maybe it was just you who noticed it – that perhaps it wasn’t as widespread as you suspected.

    It is. In fact, it’s much worse.

    Make no mistake, pal, this phenomenon is quite ubiquitous! Quite ubiquitous indeed! One might even say it’s very ubiquitous!

    And not only that, I’m seeing it everywhere!

    I’m talking, of course, about the unholy profusion of these things! These swirly design things!  They’re everywhere!

    What the hell are they?  And where did they come from?  Are these the spores of some sort of extraterrestrial organism from the planet Banal and we’re being invaded by aliens just like in that science fiction thriller about the pods and the snatching of the bodies and the dog with the human head?  What was it called again…?  “Steel Magnolias” you say…?  Sure, why not!

    Look, here’s a swirly design thing in one of its many natural environments: In an ad on the internet!  It’s attaching itself to the young man’s legs; sadly, there will be no escape for him.

    I say “many natural environments” because I theorize these things can adapt!  Oh yes! Like any hardy invasive species, they’re doing what they can to survive!

    I first started noticing them in commercials where they were animated and they’d grow near the corners of the screen like so many morning glories twine around my door. And of course now I can’t remember what the hell any of these spots were advertising so I can’t find any examples of them on YouTube to prove how they were all over the place. But they were! You have to believe me!

    While the profusion of these animated things seems to have mercifully died down on their own, their more static cousins live on – thriving, I reckon, by virtue of having infected countless graphic designers. Once they attach themselves to such entities, the parasites then can reproduce thousandfold. Using some manner of not-yet-understood virulent mind control, they convey to their hosts that these designs must be used in all future assignments.

    As is the case with Costa Rican bullet ants that have been infected with the fungus Ophiocordyceps, the graphic designer’s will is no longer his own. He is now compelled to put swirly design things on everything – everything!

    Gift cards!

    Credit cards!

    RSVP Cards!

    Business cards!

    More business cards!

    And more business cards, yet!

    In fact, suffice it to say if you’re getting your business cards from Vistaprint, you’re getting them with swirly design things on them. Believe me, I only scratched the surface! There was like twelve pages of these things on that site!

    You’ll find them in your email, in the monthly printable coupons for that disgusting buffet place you deny going to!

    Thanks to my pal, uh, Tad  for…eh, forwarding the above image to me.

    You’ll find them all over the place online!  Like I said, in ads!

    Ooh, a fancy green technology-themed one!

    My God, these designers love those goddamn butterflies, don’t they?

    You’ve hired a website designer.  Little do you realize he’s one of Them.  Doesn’t matter what you want, pal.

    This is what you’re getting:

    The worst part is even once the glut of these things have finally died out, if that ever happens, just as we’re ready to forget about them and put this latest long national nightmare behind us – immediately, they’ll be brought to the forefront of our collective consciousness once again by a bunch of unfunny comedians desperate for exposure on VH1s “I Love the 2010s.”

    I can hear it now!  “What was up with those swirly design things?!” “Those swirly design things were everywhere!” “I have to admit that I had a swirly design thing toilet seat because [begin air quotes] back in the day [end air quotes] I thought it looked cool!”  Oh please, Michael Ian Black, you did not!

    A Reusable Shopping Bag.

    And even that won’t be the end!  Don’t you believe it, brother!  Since we’ve been dealing with these for at least eight years, and because nostalgia seems to operate in twenty-year cycles, in just another twelve years (or less) these will be everywhere all over again!

    A Gift Bag with Matching Tissue Paper.

    Then in the future, people will ironically embrace this crap like I ironically embraced my 1976 Hollie Hobby lunch box back in 1996, carrying it with me everywhere as I did. And while it’s taken me sixteen years to admit it, I can now say that perhaps I looked a little like a jackass and maybe it wasn’t worth getting cut out of Grandpa’s will just so I had a stylish way to carry all the stacks of free postcards I would grab from those racks in all the coffee shops I hung out in. (Remember when we all hung out in coffee shops? And there were free postcard racks? Remember those? Okay, okay, let’s not turn this into a VH1 show! Let’s stay on point!)

    Like I was saying, you can’t get away from swirly design things!

    They’re on this thing, whatever it is!

    And on this thing, whatever it is!

    Be careful! If you get them on your fingernails then they’ll just spread! 

    By the way, nothing says “sexy” like a photo featuring a few stray hairs from an unidentifiable part of the body.

    Oh, this one surprised even me:  You’ll find swirly design things on the bulletin board at Orcutt Ranch! Yes, even Orcutt Ranch!  Where you hoped to be married someday!

    Even your closet isn’t immune! They’re on your t-shirts!

    In your local office supply store, you’ll find they’ve attached themselves to computer mice, disks, flash drives, and spiral bound notebooks!

    Don’t worry, Ted, you say!  We’ll be okay…so long as they don’t get into our food supply!

    Too late, pal! Too late!

    Oh no! This is going to be tough to watch but don’t look away!  We’re seeing the first strangling tendrils of a swirly design thing just as it’s gotten hold of a package of Kellogg’s Special K cracker chips!  Alas, its fate is unfortunately sealed!

    Soon the entire box will be suffocated in a mass of vines, dots, blossoms, splashes, fern fronds, acanthus leaves, arabesque motifs and, yes, in a bizarre and sick twist, otherwise benign butterflies!

    Apparently gum is particularly susceptible to Swirly Design Thing Syndrome (SDTS) as I have wisely dubbed it.

    Like the Kellogg’s crackers, the package on the right is just in the initial stages of infection – just a few swirls of various widths so far. Ironic, isn’t it, that the gum is called Vitality – as it is now doomed.

    It’s not just your sophisticated, “adult” gums, neither!

    Look!  Look!

    And it’s not just things we humans ingest, either! Look what’s happened to our dear Mr. Whiskers’ favorite dry cat food!

    Even our hair care products aren’t safe!  Those swirly design things have made it onto our shampoos, and once there, easily leapt onto our conditioners!

    And from there it was a short leap to our detergents and, folks, this is where it gets absolutely terrifying:

    …Because not only do we have the usual suspects – dots, leaves, inexplicable swirled lines and dear God above, the butterflies, always the butterflies – we’ve now got rendered images of realistic organic matter – blossoms, philodendron leaves, possibly a papaya, and a kiwi split in two.  Can’t you see?  It’s changing!  It’s adapting!  Mankind can’t keep up with this!

    But maybe…maybe the others are right.  Those that don’t see it. Those who don’t believe me.

    Maybe I am over reacting. And there is no invasion of swirly design things on everything. Perhaps it’s just my imagination. And none of this is happening. I thought for sure I was onto something here, but perhaps I’ve worked myself into a lather for nothing.

    Still, this little episode of mine has been exhausting. I’m beat. I…I think I’ll just go to bed. Things will look better in the morning, sure.


    Posted by on June 24, 2012, 11:59 AM.

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