The Onion A.V. Club this week provided an unexpected little tribute to Dazzle Ships, the 1983 LP by Orchestral Maneuvers In The Dark. Aaah, OMD. I bought this album back in ’85 or ’86, on vinyl. I was a fan of the group’s Junk Culture and Crush and was curious about their earlier work. The LP had a neat fold-out cover with holes punched in the striking green/grey design; the import even had a little insert advertising various Virgin products I’d never heard of (back then even the U.K. seemed exotic as any other far-off place). The music inside proved to be both scary and gorgeous, although now the only tunes I can remember were “Genetic Engineering” and the one with cleverly overlapping time code announcements. To a sheltered teen with no prior knowledge of edgier artists like Kraftwerk or Joy Division, it was pretty heady stuff.
Scattered advice to people who appeared on this year’s Kennedy Center Honors telecast:
- Aretha Franklin, don’t ever change. I know you looked ridiculous in a giganto brown ruffled boa which made you look like an overstuffed chocolate dessert. Outrageous is what you are, criticism be damned.
- Smokey Robinson, you totally deserved the honor. I just wish we could’ve heard some of your more obscure songs performed, such as “Your Wonderful Sweet Sweet Love” (The Supremes, 1972) or “My Baby Must Be a Magician” (The Marvelettes, 1968).
- Kenny Rogers, what have they done to your face? Please fire the plastic surgeon who bestowed you with a perpetually surprised expression.
- Dolly Parton, you’re starting to look like a drag queen’s impersonation of yourself. I beg you and Kenny to lay off the facework. Otherwise, rock on with your fabboo self.
- President Bush, would it kill you to smile a little? Everybody knows you’d rather be fishing in Crawford, but please look up the word decorum in the dictionary and at least pretend to have some enthusiasm.
- Jessica Simpson, I’m concerned. We only saw a glimpse of you walking onstage after the Dolly tribute. What happened? Oh, that.
- Andrew Lloyd Webber, I know you’re a lowest-common-denominator hack, but you must’ve done something right to get such fabulous performances from Christine Ebersol, Betty Buckley and that Evita woman.
- Reese Witherspoon, you are cute as a button and I love you.
- Stephen Spielberg, thanks for reminding me that one can survive growing up in the stifling suburbia of Scottsdale, AZ.
- Joan Collins and Michele Lee, remind me why you were in the audience? I thought I was watching a nighttime ’80s soap queen reunion for a few seconds there.
- Kennedy Center Honors nomination committee, please get Doris Day’s number quickly before she passes on. At least you got to James Brown in time.
A photo gallery showing views of the Disneyland Hotel when it first opened. The stylish planter in the pic below? Fantastic.
Hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday weekend. Ours was jam-packed and too frazzled, but we finally got to relax a little this afternoon after a brunch and gift giving with my family. This year’s theme might as well be Books, Books, Books. I’ll likely write more about these later on (pardon the obnoxious Amazon.com linking). My brother and sister-in-law kindly gave The Complete Peanuts 1961-1962 and Charles Addams: A Cartoonist’s Life by Linda H. Davis off my online wish list. Good friends of ours gave Christopher a fascinating looking book called The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries by Marilyn Johnson. I’ll have to borrow that from him someday. Also my s.o. gifted me with a Borders card (which I might use to buy Neal Gabler’s Disney bio) and the neato Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 4 set. C. also got the Mission: Impossible first season DVDs from my parents. And I hung a new/old Joyce Compton 1940s lobby card on my wall. Fun stuff!!
Pop Matters chimes in on the enduring popularity of Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas and its resonance with people who aren’t ordinarily into jazz (or even holiday) music. The article mentions the fact that Guaraldi wasn’t an exceptional piano player, but his work had a way of being wonderfully evocative — “Skating” immediately puts me in a winter mood, just as “Great Pumpkin Waltz” conjures up an autumnal vibe. The fact that this music ended up on Charlie Brown TV specials makes it all the more wonderful. (via the Sound Scavengers list)
Behold the stupefying fabulousness of the opening production number for the 1986 Miss America pageant. The contestants may have been different, but year after year one could count on getting the same elements from this spot. A jazzy dance troupe gyrates away while the fifty finalists walk around and lift their arms in unison — trying to spot the two or three uncoordinted ladies in the group was always good for a laugh. Glittery hosts (including a pre-Gifford Kathie Lee Johnson in ’86) are introduced, and everybody sings some thankless original tune with vague lyrics about setting your hopes high and reaching for the moon. The whole thing’s hilarious and not at all borderline scary like the year they did a production number to Prince’s “Play in the Sunshine”. They should’ve done “Dreamgirls”, man!