Archive for January, 2006

Gruesome Twosome: Kids Are All Right Edition

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

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The Brady Bunch: “Everything I Do”
LP: The Brady Bunch Phonographic Album, 1973 | BUY

Rodney Allen Rippy: “Eenie-Meenie-Minee-Moe”
LP: Take Life a Little Easier, 1974

On today’s menu: kiddie music, funky style. The Brady’s recordings consisted of frenzied shoutalongs and/or inappropriate covers of the day’s hits (such as “Baby I’m a Want You”), but “Everything I Do” from their final album proves there’s an exception to everything. Barry Williams and Maureen McCormick sing their parts beautifully, and the bridge’s gorgous harmonies (by some unknown, yet talented, backup singers) are breathtaking. Pint-sized Rodney Allen Rippy became a playground sensation when he sung “Take Life a Little Easier” in a Jack in the Box commercial. Sensing an opportunity to reach fans of childrens’ music and processed meat, Bell Records subsequently cut an entire LP of Rippy’s off-key warbling. The Jackson 5-lite “Eenie-Meenie-Minee-Moe” is noteworthy for the contrast between Rippy’s wobbly singing and the slickness of his backing musicians. Special thanks to Ion for both of these tunes.

Four Phases of VH-1

Monday, January 30th, 2006
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I’ve been thinking about VH-1 lately. More precisely, the good old VH-1 from five or ten years ago. I miss it, but there’s always hope that things will change. As this handy Wikipedia entry demonstrates, the channel has had a complex history. The interesting thing about VH-1 lies in how, unlike MTV, they never established themselves with a singular, generation-defining image. Maybe that explains why they’ve gotten away with massive personality shifts over the years. I would characterize them in four distinct cycles:

Phase One (mid ’80s) VH-1 launches in 1985 to little fanfare; in contrast to MTV, music videos skew older and snoozier (Kenny Rogers, Dionne Warwick, Julio Iglesias); bizarre assortment of veejays include Don Imus, Rita Coolidge and John “Bowzer” Bauman.

Phase Two (late ’80s/early ’90s) Agressive marketing campaign promotes the channel as a thirtysomething MTV, complete with viewers’ icky, self-indulgent recollections of their favorite ’60s/’70s albums; videos skew toward the yuppie-ish (Bonnie Raitt, Tracy Chapman); Stand Up Spotlight with Rosie O’Donnell marks a tentative step towards non-music programming; veejays include O’Donnell, Ellen Foley and Bobby Rivers (aka gayest veejay ever).

Phase Three (mid to late ’90s) “Music First” branding serves as a contrast to MTV’s increasingly non-music image; programming trends toward the the ironic and self-referential with Behind the Music, Pop Up Video and kitschy repeats of Solid Gold and The Midnight Special; videos skew in a mainstream pop direction (Sheryl Crow, Counting Crows, Eric Clapton); live performance rules with VH-1 Storytellers and VH-1 Divas In Concert.

Phase Four (’00s) Popularity of I Love the ’80s leads to avalanche of cheaply produced pop culture-themed originals; superfluous awards shows and tabloid programming (Driven, The Fabulous Life Of) abound; music videos quietly migrate to the wee hours only; increased influence from corporate owner Viacom results in synergistic nightmares such as ET on VH-1; trashy “Celebreality” programming brings gainful employment to has-been celebrities; catches up with MTV in its tenuous connection with music.

Love (and T-Shirts) For Sale

Friday, January 27th, 2006

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Somebody I know gave me an ultimatim this week — get my art online for sale or else. In response, the Scrubbles Store has been reopened at CafePress. “It needs to be called the Matt Hinrichs Store,” responded the somebody. Whatever, I’ll address that later. Right now the only artwork per se for sale is a set of cards with my pink hippo illustration, along with a small variety of scrubbles.net logo items. The thing is, I don’t like CafePress all that much — the interface is convenient and everything, but they don’t pay much. Does anybody know of alternatives? I just want to sell basic things like t-shirts and cards. Heck, I could probably just buy a bunch of blank cards and do ‘em myself.

I’ve also updated my portfolio with a couple of pieces — a Mama Cat illustration and one of my Rurouni Kenshin book cover designs. I looove the dramatic artwork on the Kenshin cover. Things are rather bitersweet right now on the RK front since I’m currently designing the final two volumes (which are due out out this Summer), a huge project that consumed much of 2005. I’m gonna miss that guy!

Repeat Steps 1-5

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

Currently I’m in the process of correcting a stupid mistake — I accidentally trashed a design project and now have to rebuild it from scratch. D’oh!

I guess that makes it a good time to point out a couple of semi-old reads that I missed. First off is Michael Beirut’s Design Observer post on the design history of The New Yorker and the concept of “slow design”. Found this via The Minor Fall, The Major Lift and it’s really excellent. Second is this long-ass book review by Geoffrey O’Brien for Always Magic in the Air: The Bomp and Brilliance of the Brill Building Era by Ken Emerson. Emerson’s book lies in my pile on the old night stand. Although his previous volume on Stephen Foster was somewhat dry, I’m chomping at the bit to read his take on the Brill Building songwriters (after I finish this one and this one).

She’s No Bebe Shopp!

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

Does anyone still think about Miss America? For the first time in years, I actually tuned in to the CMT broadcast of last weekend’s pageant. It was exactly as I remember it — kind of kitschy, kind of boring, completely fascinating in its earnestness and increasing irrelevancy. The winner, Miss Oklahoma, projected a somewhat plastic personality in contrast to the bubbly and sweet Miss Georgia. I demand a recount! Lots of Co’s Max actually attended the ceremony in Las Vegas and posted some fun photos on Flickr. Although being there in person would be a scream, perhaps the best way to experience Miss America would be watching it on the telly in a roomful of snarky gay men.

Here’s a hilarious take from the wayback machine: Peter Bagge at the 2000 pageant, courtesy of suck.com.

Motel Googie

Sunday, January 22nd, 2006
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Doncha just love the cleanliness, color and optimism in this painting? Real fresh and breezy, like that strip of paper the maid put around the toilet lid. It comes from James Lileks’ work-in-progress Motel Postcards site. He’s planning to post vintage cards and witty commentary from all 50 states throughout the year.