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Monthly Archives: November 2005

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Silent Sunday

I used to complain about the lack of revival film showings in the area where I live. Not anymore. Recently, a group of local film lovers decided to do a series of silent movie presentations with live organ accompaniment. The films have been shown at The Orpheum, a beautifully restored 1920s movie palace in downtown Phoenix. Last night they presented the early Technicolor Douglas Fairbanks swashbuckler The Black Pirate. We went with a couple of friends and had lots of fun, even if some of the details weren’t quite as perfect as they could be.

The program began with a couple of early animated shorts – Walt Disney’s Puss In Boots and Felix the Cat in Hollywood. Both had the rudimentary feel of comic books in motion, with thought balloons growing out of characters’ heads and simple, repetitive actions. But they were also quite funny in their own clumsy way. I appreciated the lampoonings of then-current stars like Rudolf Valentino, Gloria Swanson and Ben Turpin, as well as the dated lingo coming from the characters’ mouths. It was an experience very similar to when Bart and Milhouse watched that 1920s Itchy and Scratchy cartoon on The Simpsons

When it came time for The Black Pirate, I was disappointed to find that the only print the theatre had was blurry and dark — and in black and white, not color. Plus, the title cards were set in a goofy looking font called Ad-Lib. Couldn’t they have found a typeface that even sort of looks old? The film unfolded at a somewhat pokey pace, but things pick up once Dashing Doug bombards a ship and tries to avenge his father’s death (all the while courting the lovely Billie Dove as a princess). I was surprised to find several scenes that I already knew – Fairbanks slashing his way down a giant ship sail, Fairbanks’ body being effortlessly lifted by his pirate minions, and a bizarre scene involving dozens of male extras hung by wires (they’re supposed to be swimming). Seeing an older film like this in its proper setting was a blast. I’m going to have to go back again soon.

Videogame Ads of 1982 at Flickr

Out of pure nostalgia, I bought a pile of old Games magazines on eBay. I went through the mags, scanned the videogame ads, and posted them on Flickr for your enjoyment. I almost forgot how many weird, obsolete systems there were. Anyhow, enjoy.

The Great Depression

Print magazine’s regional design annual is out this month — without my Subversive Cross Stitch buttons. I thought they might have a decent chance of getting in there, but no. I’ve always had a problem with these annuals, anyhow. It claims to be an even-handed survey of U.S. design as divided by geographical region, yet Phoenix (6th largest city in America) always gets lumped in with the entire states of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico in the “Rest of the Southwest” section. This year’s selections from that area wound up being a total of two pages in a phone book sized magazine! We can’t be that terrible, can we?

Print magazine sucks.

Ahoy There Mateys

Al Lutz of reports on Disneyland’s upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean rehab to better theme it to the movie versions. The changes, set to coincide with next summer’s sequel, involve adding – yipes – animatronic Johnny Depp figures. Let’s just say I’m happy that I got to ride the “classic” version last month. Arrgh.

More One Reel Wonders, Please

Variety reports on unpcoming changes for my beloved Turner Classic Movies in attempting to lure younger viewers. They include an IMDB-style online reference and various new programs. Luckily, TCM’s not taking the dumbed-down AMC route (yet). I’m actually looking forward to a weekly feature called Underground, described as “a showcase for movies not usually shown on TCM, such as kung-fu pics, blaxploitation movies and a selection of Russ Meyer’s skin flicks.”

Gruesome Twosome: Bacharach A Go-Go Edition

The Anita Kerr Singers: “Are You There (With Another Girl)”
LP: Reflect on the Hits of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, 1969 | BUY

The Renaissance: “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again”
LP: Bacharach Baroque, 1970

This time I have two exquisitely arranged Bacharach covers that pretty much scream “60s”. Longtime session pro Anita Kerr strikes a contast between tightly clipped vocals and an unexpectedly hot arrangement (dig those drum fills). And how groovy is The Renaissance, with their blend of marvy “ba da ba” vocals and harpsichord? Special thanks to Ion for supplying the Renaissance track – inexplicably, Bacharach Baroque has never seen an official CD reissue.