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Monthly Archives: June 2006

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We’ll Take Manhattan

A terrific read, don’t pass it up: James Wolcott’s nifty, personal history of The New Yorker magazine. This essay stemmed from a purchase of The Complete New Yorker and, like the author, I too have been using mine to get lost in the pages. Currently I’m going through the musical theatre reviews chronologically starting from January 1970. Having just read Ethan Mordden’s book on ’70s musicals, I wanted to check out what NYer theatre critic Brendan Gill (along with Edith Oliver, who covered Off-Broadway) thought of these productions when they were new. Gill was such an engaging, witty writer that even his pans are a vicarious pleasure — and reading them chronologically gives one a real feel of the seasons and shifting trends in musical theatre.

One interesting thing I found in these old issues is Rea Irwin’s wonderful masthead drawing for the magazine’s theatre department. This art was used from the first issue in 1925 all the way up to December 1978, only to be replaced with … nothing. Why William Shawn decided to yank it, we’ll never know.


Gruesome Twosome: Avocado Funk Edition

Tony Hatch: “Return to the Stars”
Pye Records UK single, 1976 | BUY

Alan Hawkshaw: “Mile High Swinger”
LP: Themes: Synthesizer and Percussion, 1974

I’m getting my groove together and takin’ it on the road with these two mildly funky instrumentals from the U.K. “Return to the Stars” finds Tony Hatch mixing synths and strings with a breezy soulfulness would soon manifest itself as Disco — kinda cheesy but really great. Alan Hawkshaw’s effort comes from the library music compilation Cinemaphonic: Soul Punch, another sophisticated groove totally evocative of the ’70s … stick your blowout comb in your back pocket and go.

Dozens of Balls of Paper

During the last couple of hours, I’ve been wadding up pages of newsprint from the local free weekly — packing material for our physically large yet unprofitable eBay sellings. I wound up with inky black hands, but now at least I know the ads of every gentlemen’s club from Glendale to Apache Junction. And how are you?

I’m just writing this because sometimes I have this feeling of futility, like I’m working on a whole lot to accomplish a whole little. So I was thinking it might help if I wrote down the things I accomplished in the last three days — important things, minor things, whatever. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Worked — finished the first draft of a local children’s theatre playbill; revisions on a couple of Viz projects. They’re not done yet, but we’re close.
  • Finished a book — Ethan Mordden’s Make Believe: The Broadway Musical in the 1920s.
  • Played so much of the computer game Alchemy that now I’m seeing colorful zodiac symbols and a disembodied wizard head saying “game over” everywhere.
  • Saw the DVD of an Asian thriller, One Missed Call. It was okay, but we’ve seen so many of these kinds of films that they’re starting to blend together. All Asian thrillers have to have two of these three items : a) modern electronics gone amok, b) dirty, mildewy home or apartment, c) creepy ghost child. If a particular film contains all three (like One Missed Call did), you hit the jackpot!
  • Watched a few repeats from the Benson marathon on TV Land. It was here that I noticed that all Susan Harris sitcoms from the ’80s (Benson, Soap, It’s A Living, The Golden Girls, Empty Nest) have the same look and feel, even down to recycling the same musical cues.
  • Packed up four of the aformentioned eBay sellings, Russel Wright pieces which sold too cheaply and gave me black, inky hands.

Go Fish

I’ve created a House of Cards at flickr to showcase a set of odds-‘n-ends vintage playing cards. Some of these I vaguely remember, others are a mystery. All came courtesy of snarkmistress Julie. Thanks, Julie!