Previously we informed you about some of the most mind-blowing Easter eggs hidden in music albums, classic works of art, and movies and TV shows. Hell, we've done video games not just once, not twice, but three times. So it was only a matter of time before we turned our attention to the most diabolical industry of all -- the publishing industry. What other industry can claim to have smuggled product for both God and Hitler? These slingers of brain candy have been corrupting humanity for longer than the gun and oil industries combined, so it's not surprising that they've stashed a few bizarre secrets up their sleeves. For instance ...
Long before it was spawning some of the most mysterious hairdos in Tom Hanks' career, The Da Vinci Code became a literary phenomenon by giving history professors chest pain. Real historians were probably glad for the increased interest in the Bible as a historical document, and might even approve of Dan Brown's general depiction of history as a rich tapestry of mysteries, but they probably weren't quite as thrilled with Brown's promise that those mysteries have clear-cut right and wrong answers, discoverable by anyone resourceful enough to solve a USA Today crossword puzzle. While the mysteries that his protagonist encounters during the course of the book might be a little obvious, the cryptograms and word puzzles didn't stop inside the pages of The Da Vinci Code. In fact, Brown saved his most intriguing mysteries for the dust jacket.
If you stare long enough, it becomes an image of Dan Brown spanking it to a copy of Cryptonomicon.
Years before the publication of The Da Vinci Code, fans of Brown's novel Deception Point might have noticed a seemingly random series of numbers and letters on the last page of that book: "1-V-116-44-11-89-44-46-L-51-130-19-118-L-32-118-116-130-28-116-32-44-133-U-130."
While sane readers probably assumed that a mouse got stuck in the gears of whatever giant printing press spits out Simon & Schuster paperbacks, crazier fans may have checked to see what would happen if you replaced each number in the sequence with the first letter in the corresponding chapter in Deception Point. If you did that, you would have discovered the letter sequence "T V C I R H I O L F E N D L A D C E S C A I W U E" -- which you might recognize as also complete gibberish. But Brown's crazy fans didn't decorate their sheds with newspaper clippings and jars of urine because they're quitters. Those fans would have noticed that there are 25 letters, which is a square-able number, and realized that when you arrange those letters in a five-by-five square, you get:
T V C I R
H I O L F
E N D L A
D C E S C
A I W U E
... which, when read from top to bottom by column (instead of left to right by row like you just did), reveals the message: "THE DA VINCI CODE WILL SURFACE."
Of course, this being two years before the phrase "Da Vinci Code" meant a goddamn thing to anyone, they would have been just as likely to wonder who Dav Incico was and how exactly he was mixed up in the sinister sounding Dew-Ill Surface. Which makes it all the more impressive that Brown got away with crazying up the last page of his book two years before it meant anything.
When The Da Vinci Code finally did surface as promised, the book's dust jacket was riddled with crazy cyphers.
"The Greek letter delta gets its shape from a hand raising the middle finger. I think the meaning here is obvious."
That trail of clues led to two numbers written in light red ink on a dark red background on the back of the book, which, if you were somehow able to find them ...
*snicker* "No, no, I swear the text is there, just keep looking for it!"
... and plugged them into Google Maps, would reveal themselves to be the latitude and longitude of Kryptos, the sculpture outside the CIA headquarters. If you solved Kryptos, then you would find yourself in a dark room being interrogated by the CIA, because none of their code breakers have been able to solve it in the 23 years since it was put there.
Because fuck you, that's why.
Actually, the Krytpos reference would turn out to be a nod to the Washington, DC-based mystery that would anchor Brown's next novel, The Lost Symbol. When The Da Vinci Code became a huge hit, the publisher created a promotional game around the clues, and presumably laughed nervously while waiting to meet the lunatic who would be crazy enough to solve the damn thing.
While the sponsorship tie-in might make the whole thing seem like a capitalist hoax set up to sell books, it's at least a little impressive that Brown saved his most difficult and intriguing mysteries for his audience, and that he was doing it before he had any reason to believe that anyone would give a shit about any of it.
By definition, Easter eggs require the artist to put more attention into tiny details than the people consuming it can be reasonably expected to notice. If that is in fact the definition of an Easter egg, Playboy magazine might be responsible for the greatest Easter egg of all. After all, movie directors and video game makers can be pretty certain that anything they hide in their work will be hunted down by attentive fans and posted on a website for everyone to see. The only thing Playboy can assume about its audience is that they're going to be doing or at least thinking about doing things that could get them arrested if done in public. Their fan base is less devoted and frenzied, more horny and then looking to get rid of the evidence.
This makes it all the more baffling that Playboy has been hiding cleverly crafted Easter eggs on the covers of its magazines all this time. Specifically, Hugh Hefner and company have been hiding the bunny logo on every single cover, starting with the second-ever Playboy magazine that hit shelves in 1953. We're not sure we can call Playboy covers art, but we are pretty sure that might be the most unnecessary attention to detail ever included in the history of anything ever.
The cover below has the bunny incognito on the ribbon on the young woman's chest.
It took a team of young men nearly eight hours to position it on her breasts.
On this cover, the bunny ears are visible on the shoe at the bottom.
This one has the bunny ears on the film in front of her.
Zoom it in enough, and it displays an old issue of Hustler.
On this cover, the bunny ears take the shape of the flower the woman is holding.
The flower, lacking a mouth, silently begs for death.
This one has the bunny ears hidden on the fork.
Here it is as a white splotch on the white sheets underneath the left boob of 1994 Playmate of the Year Jenny McCarthy.
Of course, this was before she found out that silk sheets cause autism.
There's almost a sad fatalism to that last one. Hefner took the time to hide the bunny head right next to something that would ensure that nobody noticed it, and made the bunny head look like the sort of stain that serves as an exclamation point marking the end of his audience's interest in the product he makes. That might sound pretty sad on the inside for someone who has that many wives, but we're pretty sure "hasn't changed out of his pajamas for over a decade" is a sign of serious depression.
Staying in the realm of contradictions, up next we have an editor putting an incredible amount of planning into hiding a message that he apparently wrote while drunk (and 10 years old). Fans of the BBC's Top Gear might know James May as one of the three guest hosts of the quirky show. He's also an award-winning journalist and a stunt driver. But back in 1992, he was just a lowly editor for Autocar magazine, and wasn't the least bit happy about that fact. Standard protocol would have suggested that he put his head down, kiss a few asses, and wait for his shot at a job in the magazine industry that he didn't actively hate. That's how you keep your job, and it's not like the magazine industry was going anywhere.
Like the show he would go on to host, May wasn't a huge fan of standard protocol. So when he was given the opportunity to put out the magazine's special Road Test Yearbook issue -- which is apparently the Autocar equivalent of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue -- he did not take this as an opportunity to show off the ol' work ethic, and instead saw it as a chance to do this:
With punctuation added, that reads: "So you think it's really good, yeah? You should try making the bloody thing up; it's a real pain in the arse." May was in charge of putting the whole supplement together, which took several months and was "incredibly boring." So he looked over his shoulder a couple times, snickered to himself, and went about the painstaking process of re-editing the first sentence of each paragraph to hide a secret message that reads as though it was written in 15 seconds.
Instead of moving up to the big leagues of Autocar magazine, May was promptly fired, which is probably for the better, since magazine editors are typically expected to write more carefully than that and not find the job of putting a magazine together "incredibly boring." May went on to a career test driving incredibly fast cars on Britain's Top Gear, co-hosting shows about drinking, and being told "well done" and "Good show, old chap" by everyone in England.
He budgets at least two hours a day for monocle adjustment.
A Series of Unfortunate Events is a series of novellas by Daniel Handler, writing as the fictional character Lemony Snicket. There are an unlucky 13 books in total, each one following the lives of three children whose parents are killed in a house fire and who are adopted by their old, greedy distant cousin who is looking to get at their fortune one way or another. In the first book, he tries to marry one of the little girls. The novels are apparently not ironically unfortunate.
As you might have picked up from the dark tone, Handler was an aspiring adult novelist when his publisher convinced him to write the novels for kids, and he packed the books with tons of allusions and details that would require a literary degree to get. Whether he was doing it intentionally or out of boredom, it made for a series of books that fans agree are best experienced once as children and a second time once you've read all the grown-up books required to get the jokes. But even adult fans probably missed the clues hiding in the illustration by Brett Helquist at the end of each book.
For instance, here's the illustration that was waiting at the end of the first book.
And just like that, a generation of children became deathly afraid of lampposts.
The presence of the snake might have seemed like a confusing non sequitur to the millions of children reading the books as they came out, until they learned that the next book in the series would be titled The Reptile Room. Similarly, they couldn't have known why the final illustration in The Wide Window contains an optician's sign until they read The Miserable Mill, where the children encounter Dr. Orwell, an optician who lives in an eye-shaped house.
So ... he lives in a ball. No need to church it up, the man lives in a ball.
In this way, each book's illustration hints at the events of the next book, while also suggesting the value of repeated readings and the intended twice-over the books were supposed to get. It's like Handler was hiding the playbook for how to enjoy his work in each illustration. That, or again, just really, crazy bored.