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Monthly Archives: July 2006

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Thursday Miscellany

Because it’s too hot to go into detail:

  • TV Squad: Remembering Toonheads. Sad fact — Cartoon Network no longer has Looney Tunes, Merrie Melodies, or anything pre-Scooby Doo on its schedule. Cartoon Alley on TCM is a good alternative, but they’ve been in repeats since January (new episodes resume in September).
  • New York magazine: In Defense of Star Jones Reynolds. Hmm, even during her fat years she was pretty freaky. The upside to all this is how “star jones” has taken hold as a verb, i.e. “I heard that she star jonesed the catering and gown at her lavish wedding.”
  • Interviews with super-cool bloggers Eye of the Goof and Exclamation Mark. Congratulations to both!
  • IFC will be premiering a new documentary this Sunday, Fabulous! The Story of Queer Cinema. Looks promising.
  • 1,500 of Your Favorite ’80s Videos, via William at Robot Action Boy. I heartily recommend the two awesomely awesome Electric Dreams clips — Philip Oakey’s “Together In Electric Dreams” and “The Duel” by Giorgio Moroder.

Polos for Dummies

I don’t clothes shop very often, but once in a while I’ll check the Old Navy to see what they’ve got. I always head directly for the 50% Off racks, of course. What did I find? Lots of shirts in bright, traffic safety cone orange. Old Navy has a longstanding, strange attraction to orange clothing, a color that only looks good on dark-skinned blacks. I also saw racks of striped cotton polos in odd shades of brown, yellow, orange (again!) and blue. It looked like my wardrobe from 1982. The shirts have been silk screened or embroidered with kitsch imagery from that period: wild horses, sunsets, birds, sporty numbers and inscrutable words. One might think that Old Navy has an insiduous plan to turn America into a nation of Junior High chess geeks, but I can kind of see what they were going after. For kids in their 20s, this is the visual equivalent of comfort food. They wear it with irony, but secretly cherish the goofiness of stuff they couldn’t properly appreciate as infants.

P.S. I didn’t leave Old Navy empty handed that day, having purchased a comfy bright yellow tee with blue accent stitching (very Greg Brady) and one of those darn cotton polos: a plain powder blue number with flying birds on the back.

Look On Up at the Bottom

I dug this hilarious Beyond the Valley of the Dolls recap with an ample supply of screencaps. The writer on Dolly Read’s voice: “Kelly’s accent goes from cockney to Cali in two seconds. It’s like a 4-second, one-woman production of My Fair Lady set in L.A. And who wouldn’t want to see that?” The weblog entry even has a comment from the film’s Casey, actress Cynthia Myers. (via Jonno)

Black and White World

Me and the mister got with a couple of friends yesterday and trekked all the way out to Scottsdale to see the film Wordplay. I knew I was going to enjoy it since crosswords and puzzling have always fascinated me, but this documentary is one of the livelier and better made ones I’ve seen in recent years. Movies that have genuine heart and make you leave the theater with a smile are hard to come by, and this one has that in spades. Basically it covers all aspects of the current crossword puzzling world, with New York Times puzzle editor Will Shortz guiding the viewer through a brief history of crossword (including a nice section on the Times‘ puzzling grande dame, Margaret Farrar) and what goes into the making and editing of puzzles. As editor of Games magazine in the ’80s, Shortz was responsible for popularizing a new kind of crossword that sparkled with overriding themes, cleverly worded clues and a sense of whimsy — qualities that make the Times puzzles in particular so addictive for their many fans. The film’s second half follows the major annual crossword puzzle tournament with an increasing intensity. The contestants profiled were appealingly geeky and not borderline-freaks like the Scrabble tournament players in Stefan Fatsis’ Word Freak and its companion documentary, Word Wars.

Based on this movie’s appearance of famous puzzlers like Jon Stewart and Bill Clinton, I have a theory. Crosswords tend to attract a more liberal, intellectually curious audience, while devotees of the inexplicably popular sudoku tend to be a more Republican bunch. That’s the only way I can figure it.

What a Concept

Browse through the A.V. Club’s 12 Delightfully Odd Concept Albums and be thankful that the Concept Album concept hasn’t translated to the digital download age. Even the Osmonds did one!

Holy Flashback!

dollypeanuts.jpgThis flickr photo of Dolly Madison fruit pie packages with Peanuts characters gave me a momentary “whoa, childhood flashback” moment. I can remember biking down to the local Circle K to buy them as a kid. Probably the pies resonated so well since they combined two of my favorite things — sugary pastries and Peanuts. Occasionally my mom would also take us to the Dolly Madison outlet store. The long drive into another town just for cheap bread and Zingers personally seemed like a waste of time, but on one such trip I was rewarded a copy of the Charles M. Schulz history Peanuts Jubilee (a book that I still have, twenty plus years later). Dolly and Peanuts eventually went through a quiet divorce that no one wants to talk about.

Speaking of flickr, I just posted something there from Christopher’s childhood — a box of Twinkles cereal from the early ’60s. This General Mills product had a children’s story starring Twinkles the Elephant printed on every box. Twinkles can be seen in his b&w animated glory in this commercial and mini-cartoon. Cute, huh?