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Monthly Archives: June 2006

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Computers and Books and Toys, Oh My

I’ve been asked to contribute to the spiffy new group weblog On My Desk, in which creative professionals share photos of their workspaces. Here’s my entry. Not very fancy or high tech, but it suits me OK.

Auntie Meme

Christopher tagged me with a meme. I won’t tag it forward, but here are the results for the date of October 8.


The instructions:

1. Go to Wikipedia.

2. In the search box, type your birth month and day (but not year).

3. List three events that happened on your birthday.

4. List two important birthdays and one interesting death.

5. One holiday or observance (if any).

Events

1. Great Chicago Fire is ignited (1871).

2. Radio show The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet debuts (1944).

3. Martha Stewart enters prison (2004).

Birthdays

1. Argeninian President, Juan Perón (1895).

2. Christopher’s imaginary boyfriend, Matt Damon (1970).

Death

1. Guy with large signature, John Hancock (1793).

Holiday or Observance

Citrouille (Pumpkin) Day in France.

TV Boneyard

I get jazzed whenever I find out about forgotten clips from not-so-classic old TV shows, as two of my favorite pop culture bloggers have recently done. Jaime Weinman of Something Old, Nothing New wrote about the opening credits of a short-lived 1979 sitcom called Out of the Blue. The sequence is very ABC sitcommy with its outdoor vignettes of the family playing around, the names typeset in Bauhaus, and Charles Fox’s ingratiating theme song (cute, but not up to the standards of his excellent Angie theme). I don’t remember this show at all; strange considering that I spent every waking moment of 1979 sitting in front of the tube — the way most ten-year-olds do, right?

Moving on to something that I do remember (somewhat), Mark Evanier of News from Me recently posted about a longish but impressive dance sequence from the 1985 special Night of 100 Stars. As Evanier points out, much of these specials consisted merely of the stars walking across the stage while the audience applauded (hey, we had lower entertainment standards back in the ’80s). That’s probably why now nobody seems to remember them. Back then, however, it was a huge deal, especially the original 100 Stars telecast from 1982. I recall that the highlight on that one was a gorgeous, monochromatic fashion show scored to that “Hooked On Classics” song. If anything cries out for a fancy schmancy DVD reissue, it’s that!

My Hero


supermancartoonposter_sm.jpg

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s … the Max Fleischer Superman cartoons from 1941-43. Whenever Time-Warner regurgitates yet another dull version of its caped cash cow, I always go back to these original screen versions. They’re the coolest, certainly the most handsome looking, and they adhere best to the patriotic “can do” spirit of Siegel and Shuster’s original comics. Buildings, vehicles and even humans are modeled with Streamline Moderne crispness. Lois Lane is characterized as the chic yet plucky ’40s gal we all remember, and every cartoon winds up with the shot of Clark Kent all smug and happy that he fooled Lois again. The storylines are often ridiculous — The Arctic Giant with a giant dinosaur on the loose is typical — but I love the economy of storytelling and the variety of dramatic angles, pans and that sort of thing. These cartoons are amazingly sophisticated, even by 1940s standards.

Luckily, since Paramount let these films lapse into public domain, most of them can be viewed online. Archive.org hosts 14 of the original 17 cartoons for download. Wikipedia’s entry links to each of them. This page of production sketches from the 1944 effort Terror on the Midway gives some indication of the incredible visual detail that went into each production. Up up and away!

Let’s Get Blotto

Nice collection of vintage Las Vegas menus from Derrick Bostrom. I liked Bostrom’s story on how he acquired this neat assemblage from the golden age of glitter and booze.

Also at Bostrom’s: check out the download of the eponymous LP by The Klowns, an obscure bubblegum group produced by Jeff Barry. Kind of an unsettling hippie-circus vibe going on with that one.

Barefootin’

New YouTube find: a perky Mountain Dew commercial from the mid-sixties. The spot features bits with Joan Crawford (likely still a PepsiCo board member at the time) and mustachioed variety show mainstay Avery Shreiber. I still think it’s funny how the early Dew was marketed with a hayseed hillbilly theme.