Monthly Archives: November 2005

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Maybe She Knows

Cha Cha Charming interviews songwriting legend Ellie Greenwich In addition to being the queen of classic and obscure Girl Group singles (“Be My Baby” etc), she sang backup on Blondie’s “Dreaming”. Didn’t know that.

Also: the San Francisco Chronicicle says goodbye to CDs and lists some alluring alternatives to the old plastic shinies. Personally, I’m just discovering the magic of checking CDs out of the library and copying them onto my hard drive. Today I checked out Loretta Lynn’s Definitive Collection and The Roches’ self-titled album from 1979.

Whatever Happened To Illustration?

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For my birthday last month, my parents bought me a copy of the 1920s volume in Taschen’s sumptuous All American Ads series. Paging through this hefty book, I’m amazed at all the gorgeous color illustration and hand-lettered typography that was utilized on a regular basis back then. Probably 90% of the ads collected use the power of art to sell their wares — and not just in an insignificant way, either. Tellingly, the art in these ads was rarely credited or signed. While it would have been a nice (but impossible) gesture for Taschen to have tracked down the artists names, I appreciate their efforts anyway. Two of the artists I do know are Coles Phillips and JC Leyendecker. Both specialized in impossibly elegant renderings of stylishly dressed figures — Phillips for the women, and Leyendecker for the men.

While I’m on the same track, do check out the American Art Archives. I could spend days perusing the cool old art there. It makes me long for the time when illustration was a true calling and not merely a sideline for fine artists.

Shoulder-Padded TV

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Could I be the only one psyched about the Knots Landing Reunion coming up this Friday on CBS? This coincides nicely with news of the soaper’s first season DVD set, planned for an unconfirmed release in January (TV Shows On DVD has the artwork). I could just imagine someone watching it all in one sitting, jogging suit on, all the while eating Dove Bar ice cream straight out of the container.

I never watched Knots in the ’80s, but now the Soapnet weekend repeats have me hooked. Currently they’re midway through the 1984-85 season, the only one with Alec Baldwin as hunky preacher boy Joshua Rush. This season’s storylines actually aren’t as compelling as the previous years’. Things are getting too weird. The most notable change that year might be the behind the scenes addition of costume designer Travilla — suddenly the character’s wardrobes went from low key casual to blown-out “Eighties Contempo”, with matchy-matchy ensembles, chunky jewelry and shoulder pads everywhere. Odd.

Passed By

Christopher keeps pestering me: “When are you going to write about Pasadena?” Well, how about now.

The Soapnet channel is about halfway through running this series, which originally had a perplexingly short run on the Fox network in 2001. I’m getting a Desperate Housewives/Twin Peaks-vibe from this twisted family soap opera, beautifully scripted by Mike White (indie films Chuck and Buck and The Good Girl) and produced by Diane Keaton (who often has a hand in quirky, overlooked fare like this). The cast is headed by Dana Delany as the bitchy passive-aggressive mom, the kind of woman who casually observes the family dog eating a lethal helping of rat poison. Actually, the entire cast is superb and the storyline (about a murder in the well-connected family’s past) is very compelling. So, how did something this good not last long? Unfortunately, it premiered in September 2001. Fox didn’t know how to handle something this unconventional (same with Firefly) and canned the show after airing only four episodes. Soapnet is airing all thirteen episodes produced, with the central “Philip Parker” mystery being resolved at the end. Catch it before it goes, and hopefully if the ratings are decent enough there will be a future DVD release.

Gobble, Gobble

This Thanksgiving, we need to bow our heads and take time to remember the woman who invented Stove Top Stuffing. By the way, the Cornbread Stove Top with chopped apple pieces? Excellent. Thanks for the link, Brad.

Gruesome Twosome: Limeys Only Edition

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Split Enz: “Six Months In A Leaky Boat”
LP: Time and Tide, 1982 | BUY

Reparata & The Delrons: “Captain Of Your Ship”
Mala Records single, 1968 | BUY

Two psychedelic odes to sea travel and the vagaries of love. The Split Enz track captures them in their usual overlooked brilliance, while Reparata & the Delrons’ (huge in the UK, obscure in the US) single proves that Waylon Smithers was wrong — women and seamen do mix. These files will be available for four weeks. After that, it’s “sayonara”.