Chek out this funky 1980 commercial for a handheld electronic game called Blip. I started watching it and immediately thought, “Hey, I had this.” The game was kind of like pong, and as I recall the moving blip of light would cause the machine to make little whirring noises. It pretended to be an up-to-date electronic game, but actually the mechanics involed were pretty old school. Thanks to Jerry Beck of Cartoon Brew for unleashing this one!
That brings to mind another old electronic game from that period: Merlin (at first I thought it was called Mr. Merlin, but no that name belonged to a short-lived TV sitcom from back then). Every Christmas Eve, my parents would let me and my brothers open one gift early. On one such year I picked a gift from my grandparents, and I was truly excited to find that it was a Merlin. You could play tic tac toe on it! Anyway, dig the jingle on this one. Those old commercial jingles are manna from heaven.
I was going to link to the swell NPR story on Vince Guaraldi’s musical contributions to A Charlie Brown Christmas, but Christopher has beat me to it. Rats! Instead, we have to make due with a YouTube user’s demonstration of Santa Claus’ jerkiness in the Rankin-Bass holiday classic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer:
Another interesting development: one of my ex-coworkers contacted me to do CD reviews for a local upscale lifestyle magazine. I accepted. It’s a sweet little gig — three mini-reviews a month, no restrictions but for a vague instruction to cover a wide variety of genres (and presumably stuff that would appeal to free-spending North Scottsdaleite families). It’s neat, but also scary. I haven’t done any professional music writing since 2000, but in the past week the old thrills/frustrations of music criticism have flooded back. Mainly that the major labels can be a pain in the butt to deal with, and that the indies are much more accessible (and now, six years on, doesn’t it seem so quaintly “20th century” to ask for a physical copy of the music you want to cover?). Just this morning, I dealt with a music conglomerate switchboard operator who acted as if reciting the name of his employers was the most arduous task ever known to mankind.
Anyways, I’d like to fish for some suggestions here. For this first one, I have new releases locked in from The Pernice Brothers, Nanci Griffith, and an undetermined third artist. But I only have a few things in mind for the next go-round (which is due a week later), compounded by the problem that December/January is traditionally the slowest period of the year for new releases. Anybody got ideas?
Mr. Jenkins has posted scans from a fascinating fallout shelter handbook from 1962. Very Kennedy-era, and yet paranoia never really goes out of style. Yes, in forty years the Department of Homeland Security’s Chicken Little warnings will seem quaint as well.
At flickr, I’ve just posted some scans from a 1956 McCall’s magazine fashion shoot taken at Disneyland — 1, 2, 3. And don’t miss the sweetened goodness collected at the Sugar Frosted Cereal Museum. Now I need myself a bowl of Cap’n Crunch.
Happy Thanksgiving … I’ve gorged myself on turkey, cornbread stuffing with apple pieces, and boiled parsley carrots. That said, I did manage to waddle to the computer and download some neat old Disney music which iTunes just recently added to their store (thanks for the tip, Julie!). For me, the highlight was Walt Disney Takes You To Disneyland. This was the first LP released on Walt Disney Records in 1956, less a travelogue than a sweeping orchestral suite (and a true time capsule of ’50s “see the world” optimism). I especially enjoyed the Space Age/Exotica stylings on the Adventureland and Tomorrowland tracks. iTunes has it for only $4.99, a great deal.
I also downloaded the Walt Disney Records Archive Collection, Vol. 1, a 25 track online-only collection which includes rare tracks from the years 1956-1979. While the music is uniformly nice and sounding excellent, iTunes includes only the barest of info on the tracks — and the set’s accompanying “Digital Booklet” is just a lousy pdf file containing some album cover repros. It’s somewhat pathetic that this message board post from a Disney music fan has more info than what iTunes can provide for its own paying customers. Other than that annoyance, this is a beautifully selected compilation which might serve as a harbinger for future iTunes/Disney offerings.
In other Disney news, the company has set up a special area on its website for their Legacy Collection DVD releases (spotted this at The Disney Frontier Blog). Most exciting is the entry for an upcoming collection of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons. Yes, yes, yes!!
In five plus years of doing this weblog, I’ve never gotten an email from somebody I wrote about — until now. A few days ago, former Entertainment Tonight correspondent Dixie Whately sent me a response to this. She wasn’t pissed off; on the contrary she was funny and sweet! These days Ms. Whatley is doing some film reviewing and a lot of stone sculpting and photograpy. Her lovely work can be seen here.
By the way, Christopher and I met exactly twelve years ago on this date. Happy anniversary to us!