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Monthly Archives: December 2005

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When Hollywood Went Black and Tan

Next month, vintage musicals Hallelujah, Green Pastures and Cabin In The Sky will debut on DVD as a Black History Month tie-in. Truthfully, all three suffer in varying degrees from their very dated portrayals of African-American spirituality, so it should be interesting to hear the commentaries on each film. I’ve never seen the early talkie Hallelujah, but that one piques my interest since it dates from the time when Irving Thalberg was greenlighting gutsy, non-traditional projects for MGM. Green Pastures is a bizarre 1936 opus from Warners with cast members speaking in stereotypical Southern dialect. Cabin In The Sky holds up well due to the dynamite starring trio of Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, Ethel Waters and Lena Horne with direction by Vincente Minnelli. All three come out January 10!

Mister Manners

You might remember Bill Barol from his witty weblog Blather, or for speaking with The New York Times on the daily strain of weblog keeping (only to drop said weblog soon thereafter), or for his fine articles for the likes of Slate and Fast Company. Now he’s resurfaced as the “typist” of a new book, Mr. Irresponsible’s Bad Advice: How to Rip the Lip Off Your Id and Live Happily Ever After. Mr. Irresponsible is a crusty and oblivious old coot who once wrote a nationally syndicated newspaper advice column, sort of a combination of Ann Landers and Grampa Simpson. In this slim volume, he dispenses advice that is caustically funny but also, strangely enough, useful. I mean, correcting unruly children in restaurants by turning them into projectiles is sound advice — don’t you think?

We’re #14! (Out of 15)

Not to toot my own horn, but is currently ranked #14 in votes for the Weblog Award of Best Blog Design. That’s 14th place out of 15 nominees. C’mon people, throw me a little bone here and vote. Polls close on the 15th and you can vote once every 24 hours.

Two Things

Two things tonight. I finally finished the little site dedicated to our California Sun ‘n Sand Vacation from October 2005. Follow us as we journey to Huntington Beach, Anaheim and points West!

Also, a TV tip. For those with access to the BBC America network, check out Creature Comforts. This series was created by Aardman Studios as a continuation of Nick Park’s Oscar-winning Creature Comforts short, in which he dubbed the sounds of ordinary Brits talking about their lives over hilarious animation of clay animals in a zoo. These new vignettes are slicker and slightly less funny, but I love the way the animators include little touches in the background such as showing the animals pooping (yeah, I’m a four year old at heart). Like everything else on its schedule, BBC America plays it at odd hours — but the new ones come on Friday nights. The first episode includes the original Creature Comforts tacked on at the end.

Busby Berkeley Dreams

Specs on the forthcoming Busby Berkeley DVD box, due in March from Warner Home Video. In addition to the films 42nd Street, Gold Diggers of 1933 and 1935, Footlight Parade, and Dames, each disc will have new featurettes and vintage shorts. What delights me the most about this set is that they’re including those insufferably cute Merrie Melodies cartoons that Warner Bros. produced to capitalize on the cheery Harry Warren/Al Dubin songs from those films — “Pettin’ In The Park”, “Honeymoon Hotel”, “Shuffle Off To Buffalo” and the like. I haven’t seen those in years. Plus: a bonus disc of 20 Berkeley numbers from various musicals. Joy!!

Notes and Comments

Weblog maintenance note: I installed a plugin called EmailWhitelister which catalogs regular commenters so their fine observations will instantly show up, instead of having to wait for my approval. I tested it on Safari and it seemed fine. On Mozilla, it goes through a weird behavior that makes it look like the comment disappeared while the page is hanging. The comment is saved, however — you need to hit “Post” only once, then reload the page in your browser and it shows up. I haven’t tested it yet on IE or Firefox for Windows.