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Monthly Archives: December 2006

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Vintage Subway Shilling

An eBay seller recently had for sale a great group of vintage advertising cards from the New York subway system. I grabbed the images, cleaned ’em up, and uploaded them to my Cool Vintage Illustration flickr set. These cards are unusual in that the back sides had portraits and bios of the designers who worked on them — big names like Paul Rand, E. McKnight Kauffer, and Joseph Binder (below). It appears that each designer was given carte blanche to do whatever he pleased, as long as it conveyed the proper “you can’t beat advertising on subway cards” message.

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Jeffy’s Crappy Christmas

Is there a piece of holiday television that you haven’t seen in years? Something you’d want to catch again to find out if it’s as good/bad/sappy as you remember? My main choice would be the animated A Family Circus Christmas, first broadcast in 1979. I recall that the special was as inoffensively cute as the comic strip, with a storyline which centered around Jeffy while Dolly, Billy, Barfy and the rest got consigned to supporting roles. From X-Entertainment’s recap of of three years ago, I can also gather that it’s awfully lame. It is here that we can compare what got utilized from Bil Keane’s strip and what didn’t. Dotted-line pathways? No. Billy taking over the strip? No. Ghost of a dead grandparent? Yes.

Another tale of pop culture geekiness: Christopher was telling me about how, when helping with the handing out of gifts to co-workers last week, he did a flat “ho ho ho”. Right away I recognized it as the metallic, monotone “ho ho ho” from Ned Flander’s rooftop Santa in The Simpsons‘ pilot episode! Unfortunately none of C’s co-workers caught that reference. We’re just too hip for this world.

Queen of Queens

Salon on Perez Hilton’s Gay Witch Hunt. I’ve checked out PerezHilton.com a few times, and honestly … I don’t get it. A bunch of downloaded paparazzi pics with childish writing scribbled on top. This is hugely popular? Go Fug Yourself does basically the same thing, but at least the G.F.Y. people are funny. And I stronly disagree with Hilton’s m.o. that outing celebrities is a public service to the gay community. Mostly it’s nasty and intrusive — although the tabloid press thinks otherwise, even celebrities deserve to have private lives.

Monster Mash

Right now I’m lovin’ the cover design on Criterion’s forthcoming multi-film set Monsters and Madmen. The illustrations on this and the individual titles look like they were done by some currently hot comics illustrator, but I can’t think of the name. Anybody know? Regardless, anything with Boris Karloff might make for a great rental. Another design-y link: one weblogger’s choices for Top 5 Movie Posters of 2006 (via UnBeige).

Tower’s End

The Washington Post on the final weeks of Tower Records. Despite the reporter’s Old Fogeyishness, I can relate to the fact that a sense of discovery is lost with the closing of these stores. The Tempe, AZ Tower Records location was my favorite hangout during my student days. I’d bike there just about every week in high school, then in college it became easier since the store was located just steps away from the Art building at Arizona State University. Mostly I’d just thumb through the albums (and, later, the CDs), study all the neat artwork and compile a mental list of stuff I’d want to own. The Tempe store later relocated across the parking lot to a larger space in the same strip mall, but the funky ambience wasn’t the same. Then they moved way across town. More recently I’d try to visit the Phoenix location, but they never had anything I wanted and the place seemed kind of sad and run-down. The experience was disillusioning. I prefer to remember the good old Tower from the ’80s and early ’90s. So here’s a fond farewell from another customer.

Christmas with Barbara Stanwyck

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Did you ever have to double-dip on the Holiday shopping? I bought my mom the DVD of Barbara Stanwyck’s 1946 comedy Christmas In Connecticut, but Christopher needed a quick gift for his boss so we ended up buying two. That’s okay, it’s a fun movie — and I’ll forgive it for being probably the least Christmassy Christmas film ever made. Stanwyck plays a Martha Stewart-like domestic doyenne. The comedy begins when her editor (Sidney Greenstreet, less intimidating than normal) invites an ailing soldier (handsome Dennis Morgan) to stay at Stanwyck’s home for the holidays. Problem is, Stanwyck’s “perfect wife and mother” image is a fake and the woman has to quickly come up with a picturesque Connecticut abode, a husband, and a baby before Morgan catches on to her ruse. The excellent supporting cast includes personal fave Joyce Compton as the sweetie-pie nurse who sets the plot in motion. If you can’t get the DVD (which is pretty bare bones, including just a trailer and Warner’s heavy-handed short A Star in the Night), Turner Classic Movies will be showing this on Chrismas Eve.

Another not-quite-Christmas Stanwyck I would recommend is 1940’s Remember the Night with Fred MacMurray. Although not on DVD yet, the film has some of the sweetest Yuletide scenes ever captured on film. Our Barbara plays a paroled shoplifter under the care of D.A. MacMurray. Circumstances force the duo to spend the holidays at MacMurray’s childhood home with his mother (Beulah Bondi doing her usual “sacrificial mom” bit). I can remember watching this on the old American Movie Classics channel and being enchanted by the performers and the gorgeous b&w cinematography. Catch it on TCM on December 17th.