Friday, March 11, 2016

Cross your fingers AND your eyes

I'm the kind of husband who really likes to roam around while my dear wifey is shopping.  I've never been much of one to stand around while people decide among purses and sweaters, and it's best for Peggy to send me off to other stores in the mall or wherever and give me a time to meet up later, rather than me standing there making inane comments and inappropriately ogling mannequins and womannequins.

If there's a bookstore handy, I'm headed for the Magic Eye books so I can get all crosseyed and see the Statue of Liberty and platypuses and Superman flying to the aid of those below.

Remember those books?  They came out starting in 1993, featuring what they call random dot autostereograms.  Focusing on 2D printed designs, you just let you eyes go all kitty-wompus, and then two things get to see a 3D image all of a sudden, and you call the closest person and hand them the book and say, "Hey! Look at this!  You see the mermaid, right?"

And they kind of just sidle away...

Magic Eye was a big deal when it first came along, and it held one advantage over the other big publishing deal of the time, Sudoku. That was that game that combined the fun of calculus with the desperation of a crossword puzzle, except there were no words, just numbers.  The advantage for me was that I could do Magic Eye. I have never, in over 127 tries, successfully sodokued.  My problem is the age-old story: premature capitulation.  I give up after about 13 seconds.

Before 1979, the world had to get along with no autostereograms. That's when Christopher Tyler and Maureen Clarke created the first of them, and it was 1991 when Tenyo Publishing of Japan published a book of the pictures.  The book was called "Miru Miru Mega Yokunaru Magic Eye ("Your Eyesight Gets Better & Better in a Very Short Rate of Time: Magic Eye").

With a catchy title like that, how could Magic Eye not become a worldwide sensation by 1993, the same year that Tag Team gave us "Whoop! There It Is!" and we all fell under the spell of "Sleepless In Seattle"?

And besides the books that flooded the Barneses and Nobleses, there were Magic Eye postcards, mousepads, lunch boxes, neckties and a Sunday comics section feature in the newspaper, so that the kids could show up for church all goggly.

It works by printing a horizontally repeating pattern that's a little bit different with every pass.  That's what gives the illusion of tricks each of your eyes into focusing on a different part of the pattern.

If only it could trick one eye into making you a sandwich while the other reads the sports pages!

Some examples:
 Look for the name of a certain automobile manufacturer here.
Bless your heart!

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