Archive for April, 2007

The Land of Coulda Shoulda

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

You probably already know that I’m crazy about theme parks, both real and imagined. So it kinda blew my mind when I came across these concept drawings for an unbuilt Hanna-Barbera theme park which Dan Goodsell shared at his Sampler of Things weblog. The six-year-old inner me is jumping up and down at the thought of a Jetsons ride-thru, and that Flintstones Freeway ride looks like a blast and a half.

Hanna Barbera Land

On a semi-related note, drink in the appealingly modern simplicity of Disney artist Walt Peregoy’s 101 Dalmatians color key art. Thanks to Amid at Cartoon Modern for sharing these. Wow.

Bollywood by Ear

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

Bollywood CD coverSwapatorium shares a few nuggets from Musical Highlights from R.K. Films, an LP which appears to be an early compilation of Indian film music for the English-speaking audience. Coincidentally, I was in the mood for some cool Bollywood music this month, so I used some of my eMusic credits to download 2005′s Bollywood: An Anthology of Songs from Popular Indian Cinema comp. I just sampled the first disc of this double-disc set, which covers the years 1949-1977. Although four tracks overlap with the Rough Guide to Bollywood CD I already had, it’s a nicely kitschy and diverse set with plenty of vocals from the ageless and legendary Asha Bhosle. My all time fave song of that sort still has to be Ms. Bhosle’s “Dum Maro Dum” from 1971′s Haré Rama Haré Krishna. The hugely popular film served as Bollywood’s comment on the shallowness of the Western hippie movement, and that tune came as wild and wooly as it got. The sheer number of movies/soundtracks that Bollywood churns out is mind-boggling (eMusic lists an astonishing 4,020 albums under that genre), but those two comps serve as good introductions for the adventurous Western listener.

Bonus goodie: “Dum Maro Dum” on YouTube. Dig it.

Teach Me Tiger

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

The commentary on 25 great Calvin and Hobbes strips encapsulates why this was perhaps the greatest daily newspaper comic strip ever (via Pop Culture Junk Mail). My absolulety favorite time was the c.1990 series when Calvin was making snowmen and explaining his creations the way a fine artist would (i.e. full of hifalutin’ bullshit). Maybe it sprung from the fact that I was studying fine art at the time, but those particular strips really struck a nerve with me.

LOL in Activity

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

I’d file Something Awful’s hilarious parody of Cartoon Brew in the “better late than never” category since it came out on the 12th. It’s still funny, though. From the obituary of fictional old-as-dirt animator Terp Henderson:

Though most of Terp’s work has gone unseen by the public, he will mainly be remembered by the competent cel-painting on such Disney shorts as Trolley Follies, Clarabell Cow Eats a Straw Hat, Love that Horseless Carriage! and the canceled 1940 adaptation of Mein Kampf.

The Sunny Side of Sad

Friday, April 20th, 2007

TCM Sunny SideThis morning I was having my usual idle TV watching session and was disappointed to find that Turner Classic Movies replaced their longstanding “Sunny Side of Life” movie intros with a more generic intro showing contemporary footage of morning commuters, pigeons and tall buildings. Yawn. This was inevitable, since the channel’s previously chaotic on-air visual identity has been gradually moving to a more consistent “cityscape” theme over the past year. Supposedly this is part of an overall effort to attract more youthful viewers, but mostly the new imagery comes across as safe and borning. One TCM forum poster likened this new intro to a late-’80s Levis ad, and I’d have to agree. “Sunny Side” must have played in our home at least a thousand times, but I never got tired of the spot’s calming animation, Edward Hopper-like visuals, and Chet Baker’s voice/trumpet. Oh well.

At least TCM still does one visual identity with a sense of style and panache: the “This Month” promos. Vintage clips expertly edited with a current, edgy song on the soundtrack can actually make old movies look hip. Look at the beautiful job they did using Beck’s “Lonesome Tears” (this one’s from 2003, I believe):

Book Review: Mingering Mike

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

Mingering Mike bookToday I start a new and (hopefully) continuing scrubbles.net feature in which new books which fall under the “pop culture/art/design/retro goodness” umbrella are reviewed. Our first subject is Mingering Mike: The Amazing Career of an Imaginary Soul Superstar from Princeton Architectural Press.

The story behind this book really started in late 2003, when Washington D.C. deejay and record collector Dori Hadar found a cache of unusual LPs during a vinyl hunting trip. The records weren’t records at all but intricately drawn artworks representing the works of one “Mingering Mike” — a mythical Soul/R&B performer whose career encompassed dozens of works on several different made-up labels. Hadar took photos of the albums and shared them in the Soul Strut forums, and his findings became the talk of the internet. As the story spread among crate-diggers, then bloggers, then the mainstream media, everyone wanted to know the identity of the enigmatic person behind these appealingly funky folk art creations. Eventually Hadar located the man — and the whole fascinating journey of these pieces, from their creation to their rediscovery, is told in this book.

I think one of the main things that initially attracted me to these pieces is how they express the need to project oneself onto the things you enjoy. This guy found so much to identify with in his favorite musical performers that he attached this stylin’ alter ego to it, building an intricate world around him in the process (that’s the way I interpret them, anyhow). Adding to the charm is the fact that he used whatever was at hand — scraps of cardboard, children’s tempura paint, ball point pens. The pieces are clumsy and childlike, obsessively detailed and situated in a quintessential early ’70s world of afros, Nixon-era social issues, and kung-fu movies. Mike’s album art, sketches and poems are lovingly presented here in large format alongside text telling where he was at that time, and why he abruptly retired Mingering Mike in the late ’70s. It’s a fascinating story that overlaps between the worlds of music and outsider art. There’s even a nifty Mingering Mike discography in the back!

Mingering Mike: The Amazing Career of an Imaginary Soul Superstar will be released May 1st. Pre-order at Amazon.com here.

Mingering Mike Tuxedo cover