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Tomorrow is Easter in the Western calendar, and the supermarkets have been full of chocolate eggs and rabbits for weeks.
But the term Easter Egg has another meaning, that you might also know. Since the late 1970s, it has been used to mean a hidden element in a video game or software. Sometimes it gives a user some benefit, like a hint to help them win, other times it’s just there for fun. We also talk about “Easter Eggs” in media: whether the “hidden Mickey” in Disney films and at Disney parks, or various subtle inclusions in movies and TV shows. (For example Stranger Things showed a phone number on screen that if dialed played a message from a character.) They are clues to be found by those paying close attention.
Of course, looking for clues and hidden meanings is a popular habit. There was once a craze for playing records backwards in search of hidden messages. Famous occultist and weirdo Aleister Crowley was supposedly into it, and that was in the early days of the gramophone. By the 1960s, some musicians deliberately placed phrases in their songs that would be heard when played backwards, but most bored teens pushing their turntables in reverse were just listening to garbled nonsense. That didn’t stop people believing they made out various communications this way.
The CD ended the option to play things backwards, but it did bring some “hidden tracks” on recordings, another form of Easter Egg. A lagniappe for fans.
We all like finding hidden things, and research is in its own way an Easter Egg hunt. Searching for books in a library offers the chance to browse the shelves nearby, and sometimes stumble onto something useful.
Today I was searching some old magazines online, and came upon this lovely page.
It’s from the Delineator magazine, which carried Butterick pattern designs. These lovely Easter fashions were for women to make at home. I’m rather taken by the green one. I love looking through old newspapers and magazines, because almost every page offers an Easter Egg, in news stories or ads.
Like the fact the New York Times archive highlighted in one block these two stories: the “disappearance” of Easter Island, and the death of the unfortunately named banker Mr Butts, in 1923.
See you all next week.