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Monthly Archives: September 2006

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Tin Ears

There exist few DVDs that I would choose to buy instead of rent; the Walt Disney Treasures count among them. Earlier editions of these sets have gone out of print and now fetch a pretty penny (especially The Complete Goofy, which sells for $75-100 on eBay). Having missed out on the Behind the Scenes at the Walt Disney Studio one when it came out in 2002, I lucked into getting it last week on eBay — for ten bucks! I most looked forward to the set’s 1941 feature The Reluctant Dragon, a movie which previously had been rare as hens’ teeth to see. Starring Robert Benchley as himself touring the then-new Disney Burbank studios., the film was coproduced by RKO and has the easygoing charm of that studio’s grade-B musicals and comedies. Sure, the behind-the-scenes aspects come across as artificially stagey, but you do get a great sense of the studio’s close knit and jovial working environment (it must have been a blast working there in the ’40s) and the early Technicolor photography is gorgeous. Ironically, the film reaches a dull spot with the animated short of the same name, an unengaging tale of a wimpy dragon (although I got a little thrill out of the dragon’s mincing, pansy mannerisms).

The next Disney Treasures wave (due out in December) hasn’t been officially announced yet, but the forthcoming titles all have pre-order listings — Your Host, Walt Disney, The Complete Pluto, Vol. 2, The Hardy Boys, and More Silly Symphonies (1929-1938). Can’t wait for the Silly Symphonies one! Regrettably it looks like they’re already double-dipping, with a 1965 Disneyland special on Your Host, Walt Disney previously appearing on the 2001 Disneyland U.S.A. set. More info at

Indestructibles 3


What anal-retentives do for fun — every so often I like to go through my iTunes library and take note of examples where I have three or more versions of the same song. These are the “indestructables,” songs that hold up to being done by several different artists. Assembling the latest batch resulted in lots of Bacharach, Motown, and other ’60s pop — although I don’t know why I have four renditions of “Feelin’ Groovy”, since honestly I find that song too grating and cutesy-poo. Six “Walk On By”s is more like it. Outstanding. What are your indestructibles? (art is from Ethel Smith’s Hit Party vinyl LP cover)

(There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me — Lou Johnson, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Naked Eyes, Sue Raney
Aguas de Marco — Antonio Carlos Jobim and Elis Regina, Stan Getz, Trio Mocoto
Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In — The Fifth Dimension, Diana Ross & The Supremes, James Last
Baby It’s You — The Beatles, The Shirelles, Smith
Baby, I Love You — The Ronettes, Andy Kim, Cher
But You Know I Love You — Bill Anderson, Dolly Parton, Evie Sands
Crying in the Rain — The Everly Brothers, The Partridge Family, Rockpile
I Say a Little Prayer — Burt Bacharach, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, The Renaissance, Brasilia Modern Six
I Want You Back — Jackson 5, Esso Trinidad Steel Band, Graham Parker
I’ll Plant My Own Tree — Eileen Wilson, Margaret Whiting, Judy Garland, Patty Duke
I’m Gonna Make You Love Me — Madeline Bell, Bryan Hyland, Nick DeCaro
Love So Fine — The Carnival, Roger Nichols & The Small Circle of Friends, The Four King Cousins, Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent
Make It Easy On Yourself — Burt Bacharach, Dionne Warwick, Jerry Butler
Mas Que Nada — Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66
Put Yourself In My Place — The Supremes, The Isley Brothers, Chris Clark
Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head — Quarteto Forma, The Renaissance, Jimmy Ruffin
Reach Out For Me — Burt Bacharach, The Carnival, Lou Johnson
Rio — Lucio Alves, Paul Winter, Sylvia Telles
She’s Got You — Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Timi Yuro
Spinning Wheel — Barbara Acklin, Chris Clark, The Flaming Ember, The Peter Covent Band
Sugar and Spice — The Cryan’ Shames, The Searchers, Tony Hatch
Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While) — Eddie Holland, Chris Clark, Kim Weston
The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) — The Golddiggers, Paul Desmond, Harpers Bizarre, Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent
Ticket To Ride — Alma Cogan, The Carpenters, Mystic Moods Orchestra
Trust — Paul Williams, The Peppermint Trolley Co., Roger Nichols & The Small Circle of Friends
Walk On By — Connie Francis, Dionne Warwick, Enoch Light, The Four King Cousins, The Renaissance, Sue Raney
Without Her/Him — Blood, Sweat & Tears, Julie London, Triste Janero
You’re The One — Petula Clark, Tony Hatch, The Cookies

No Way To Hide Your Prying Eyes delves into Judging Your Friends By Their Netflix Lists (via Hacking Netflix). Although the article belabors the point about the five-star ratings system, it does touch on the voyeuristic thrill of checking out which DVDs your friends have lined up. I’ve gotten a lot of good ideas off them.

Anyone who’d like to become my Netflix Friend is welcome to do so by sending an invite to biz(at) We have the four-out-at-a-time plan, with myself having a queue for three deliveries to Christopher’s separate queue for one. C. tends to put the newer films on his (short) list so they get here faster — but my Friends never see that. Instead, they get my unwieldly queue filled with Mystery Science Theaters, weird documentaries, crappy TV shows, old Disney movies and the occasional Criterion disc.

Yellowed, Stained, Might Be Worth Something

Another phase of my stuff reduction program has begun at eBay. You’ll recall that for the past several months I have been selling off my collection of excess Russel Wright American Modern dinnerware. Disappointingly, most of the pieces sold for 25-50% less than how much I bought them for in the ’90s (and I bought them cheap!). Plus, packing them for shipment and schlepping these huge boxes to the post office wound up being a total headache. Now that that’s over, we’ve started selling miscellaneous smaller items — mostly paper ephemera courtesy of our generous friend Julie. Among the items I have up for sale this week is my vintage pair of red leather Converse high tops that I’ve saved since 1986. Those might be profitable, unlike the Russel Wright.

That out of the way, I want to write about some of the neater retro-weblogs seen lately. I found Waffle Whiffer Zone via Bubblegum Fink. WWZ posts on semi-forgotten advertising characters of the past, such as Pizza Hut Pete. He recently did a writeup on Big Yella, who adorned boxes of Kellogg’s Corn Pops in the late ’70s in between Generic Cowboy and Poppy Porcupine (An aside on Poppy, surely one of the stranger cereal mascots ever: we were watching Mysterious Skin, and I was gratified that the film, partially set in 1983, showed a Corn Pops box with the porcupine. A little detail, I know, but little details really count.) Through WWZ I found Tiki Ranch, another worthwhile retro-themed weblog. Finally, there’s Swapatorium — which has been around for awhile, but oddly I never came across it until performing a Google search for Jim Palmer’s old Jockey underwear ads a few weeks ago (don’t ask). The resulting entry epitomizes what they do: explore forgotton junk of the past with witty commentary. Perfect!

Two Pictures

Too, too funny — The Daily Show‘s John Hodgman appropriated an old George Plimpton Intellivision ad to promote the paperback edition of his book, The Areas of My Expertise. Whoever designed this did an excellent job, although I have to admit that Hodgman looks kind of stiff next to the suavetude that is Plimpton. On his weblog, Hodgman graciously linked to my flickr profile (I uploaded a scan of it to my Videogame Ads 1982 set ten months ago). Now I’m getting lots of flickr traffic — Plimpton’s ad has racked up an impressive 17,663 views. Not bad for a dead guy.


Salute Your Shorts

I’m sending my Tivo into overdrive on Turner Classic Movies this Friday — the channel will be broadcasting an entire day of short films with its Behind The Camera: The Shorts Circuit fest. They’ll be showing a few brand new films, but of course I’m going to be checking out the cool vintage stuff (which has been divided into hourlong programmes grouped by director). For example — scheduled during the George Sidney segment, 1939’s Hollywood Hobbies follows Joyce Compton and Sally Blaine as a couple of silly tourists on the lookout for celebrities in Hollywood. The film exists as a pleasantly goofy sampling of how the big studios promoted their stars. Clark Gable’s favorite hobby was whitewashing fences, apparently.

Now that I’m on it, TCM has a lot of intriguing delights on their October schedule. That month will see the premiere of TCM Underground, a weekly showcase of cult horror/exploitation films hosted by Rob Zombie. This particular development has a lot of diehard TCM fans quaking in their boots, but I say bring it on. I love variety and personally can’t wait to see, for example, the pair of Russ Meyer flicks they have scheduled for Oct. 20 (Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Mudhoney, neither of which I’ve seen). Best. Channel. Ever.