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Monthly Archives: August 2006

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Today’s Inspiration

I’ve been busy busy busy on various design projects lately (can’t ya tell?), but now’s a good time to deliver a well-deserved plug for Leif Peng’s Today’s Inspiration weblog. I’ve long used old general-interest magazines from the ’50s and ’60s as neat visual resources. However, I still know very little about the hard working, prolific illustrators whose work appeared within their pages (usually accompanying a saucy piece of short fiction). Peng has done a great job — not only with assembling drop-dead gorgeous pieces from that era, but also in supplying biographical info on these overlooked artists. The images discussed in Peng’s blog are also posted on his flickr account for easier perusal.

Oh, and here’s a typically lovely example. Andy Virgil in McCall’s, November 1959:

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Another Krazy Kartoon

I love finding goodies from otherwise unnoteworthy old movies. Here’s The Hot Choc-Late Soldiers, an animated segment from MGM’s poky all-star comedy revue Hollywood Party (1934). Notable as one of the few things Walt Disney made for a competing studio, the cartoon was introduced by Mickey Mouse in a novel animated/live action scene (unfortunately that part’s not on YouTube anywhere). This represents the one and only time that Disney characters froliced to a song by MGM tunesmiths Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown. Cute!

Parking Lot Nostalgia?

Group weblog Re-Imagineering neatly examines certain extinct things about Disneyland in a series of posts called Elemental Losses. Air focuses on the Skyway, removed in 1994 supposedly because of potential lawsuits from people “falling” out of the ride. Earth is on the parking lot (Disney’s California Adventure took over the acreage in 2001), or rather how the lack of an immediate “real world” exterior affects guests entering Disneyland. Finally, Fire laments the removal of the burning settler’s cabin and its non-P.C. story involving indians on a rampage. I’m looking forward to whatever they have in store for Water.

Jack Carson: Boob for All Seasons

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Coincidentally, the webmaster of this nice Jack Carson tribute site sent me a link the day after I watched one of his movies broadcast on TCM. Carson was one of the most underrated performers of the ’40s and ’50s. He excelled in portraying doofy yet appealing know-it-alls, jocular guys who settled into careers of seedy salesmanship (like the used car dealer he played in a Twilight Zone episode). He brought a lot of heart and humanity to his work and was even sexy in an offbeat way. For prime Carson, check him out in Mildred Pierce or the tasty 1943 Ida Lupino vehicle The Hard Way.

By the way, the movie I watched was One More Tomorrow, a glossy yet turgid Warner Bros. melodrama from 1946. Carson stars alongside Dennis Morgan, Ann Sheridan, Alexis Smith and Jane Wyman. Not one of his better flicks — but it does have a few witty lines, the ladies are decked out in some gorgeous gowns, and ‘ol Jack is his usual funny self.

Gruesome Twosome: Baroque’n Records Edition

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The Cake: “Medieval Love”
LP: The Cake, 1967

The Left Banke: “Barterers and Their Wives”
LP: Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina, 1967

For reasons unknown, the mid ’60s rock music scene underwent a collective fascination with the old (or should I say “olde”). The precious sounds of harpsichords, violins and mandolins made certain artists sound like wandering troupes of Renaissance Faire musicians, as these two selections demonstrate. The Cake was an overlooked girl trio who filled their debut album with pseudo-Ronettes ditties, R&B covers, and oddly progressive psychedelic odes such as the soothing “Medieval Love”. “Barterers and Their Wives” is another lovely nugget from criminally short-lived New Yorkers The Left Banke. Thanks to Patrick for The Cake.

13,148,719 Minutes

My family didn’t get basic cable until Summer 1986. What it boiled down to was that I mostly missed out on the first five years of MTV. There was a lot of catching up to do. A ravenous teen interested in visual artistry, I would watch music videos wherever, whenever possible — mostly MTV, but also BET, Friday Night Videos, Night Flight and even programs on the Spanish and religious channels. But MTV remained king. I witnessed Martha Quinn and Alan Hunter give way to Adam Curry and Kevin Seal, 120 Minutes, Yo! MTV Raps and Club MTV. We had a good run together, but nowadays I glance at MTV and see a complete stranger. I find it tacky and repulsive, but then again I’m no longer 18. Happy birthday, MTV. For further reading try CNN’s 25 Memorable MTV Moments or 25 Years Down the Tube, a wistful and perceptive essay by The Washington Post‘s Hank Steuver.