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Monthly Archives: August 2008

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Boom Pop, Cool Beans!

Jeff Pepper of the wonderful 2719 Hyperion has started a new weblog to explore his interest in vintage pop culture of the non-Disney variety. Boom Pop! adheres closely to the 2719 Hyperion formula, which in this case is a good thing. It’s only ten days old and I already have it in my Bloglines feeds. Keep up the good work, Jeff!

The Decline and Fall of Playgirl

After announcing that it will go web-only in 2009, former Playgirl editor Colleen Kane offers a postmortem of the magazine. This was a fascinating read. Although I’ve only thumbed through one issue of Playgirl, I feel a bit sad that this particular era is ending. Click here for a sampling of centerfolds from the mag’s hairy ‘n permed heyday (NSFW, obviously).

Weekly Mishmash: July 27-August 2

Crap Shoot: The Documentary (2007). A constantly behatted midwestern guy and his buddy journey to Hollywood and Las Vegas to find out just why current movies are so awful. Speaking of awful … director/writer Kenneth Close obviously fancies himself a Michael Moore type, but the guy has zero charisma and his strained attempts at humor give me the hives. It has all the style and panache of homemade camcorder footage from the ’80s, and furthermore I’m convinced that all the rave reviews this thing got on IMDb were penned by Close and/or his friends. Yuck!
Pete’s Dragon (1977). One of those movies that I loved as a kid. From an adult perspective, I’d say the movie is deeply flawed — but worth watching just to check out what the Disney studio was cranking out during its most anachronistic period. First off, it’s too long and suffers from many dull spots (usually when the dragon, Elliot, isn’t around). Though nicely animated by Don Bluth, the character of Elliot is a bit of a cypher. The cast hams it up like crazy, and young Sean Marshall as Pete is about as generic a little kid as ever headlined a big budget musical. It goes against logic that non-actor Helen Reddy as the lightkeeper Flora delivers the most subtle and nuanced performance. Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn’s songs are a delight, and I’m surprised at how well I remember many of them — “The Happiest Home In These Hills,” “Boo Bop Bopbop Bop (I Love You, Too),” “It’s Not Easy,” “Candle On The Water.” Perhaps Disney could do a tighter remake using the same score, updated with snazzy CGI effects. And don’t forget the “Win a trip to Disneyland” promotion …

Pete’s Dragon Sunkist Ad

A Private View — Irene Mayer Selznick. The 1983 biography of a woman best known for being daughter and wife to two of classic Hollywood’s most powerful moguls. Both Louis B. Mayer and David O. Selznick come across as sympathetic and stubbornly human men who influenced Irene’s life in countless ways. Irene is an excellent writer with a gift for observation and a pragmatic viewpoint, traits that especially shine in the earlier chapters of her book. Unlike many other bios where childhood memories make up the dullest parts, Irene shows herself to have been a remarkably poised and precocious little girl almost from birth. She’s a stark contrast to her vain and impetuous older sister, Edith (who is by far the least likable person in the book). After Irene divorced Selznick in the ’40s, she went on to forge a thriving career in the New York theatre scene as producer of A Streetcar Named Desire and several other plays. It’s a fitting coda to an uplifting book.
Romance on the High Seas (1948). Doris Day’s first movie is a lively Technicolor musical filled with excellent swing music, gay misadventures, and some truly gorgeous costumes and sets. Fluff, to be sure, but this is the best fluff there is! Seeing it makes me realize that Warner Bros. could often outdo MGM in the musicals department. While MGM’s stuff reveled in schmaltz, Warners piled on the panache with a distinctly modern sensibility. The ace supporting cast includes Jack Carson (great comic timing), Janis Paige (what a dish), and S.Z. Sakall (best jowls in classic moviedom).
Salesman (1968). The one DVD that I’ve been pestering Netflix to carry since 2001 recently became available to rent — finally! This documentary by Albert and David Maysles focuses on a group of door-to-door bible salesman as they struggle to meet sales quotas. Some find the Maysles’ straightforward style boring, but I found the entire film enthralling and very evocative of ’60s America and its dashed hopes. We see the salesmen as they work snowy Boston streets and dingy Florida suburbs with desperate zeal. Most of the would-be customers are families who are barely getting by, captured with the resigned sadness of a Diane Arbus photograph. The main salesman the filmmakers follow, an older guy with a vacant stare, reminded me of Jack Lemmon in Glengary Glenn Ross (or better yet, Gil from The Simpsons). Worth the wait for sure.

Book Review: Designer’s Toolkit — 1000 Colors

1000 Colors CoverEvery graphic designer (every print designer, anyhow) knows that one of the chief hazards of the job lies in the fact that colors rarely look the same on computer screens as they do in print. Unless you own a super-expensive set of Pantone books or only work in black and white, selecting the right colors is always something of a crapshoot. Graham Davis aims to remedy that situation with his book, The Designer’s Toolkit: 1000 Colors.

Small graphic arrangements of colors make up the bulk of this book. That’s it — simple and effective. On each page, a rudimentary design or pattern is rendered in twelve different colors. These color groupings are repeated in different color arrangements, twelve to a page, organized under cutesy headings like “Yummy Apple.” Most importantly, all colors are reproduced at the bottom of each page with their corresponding RGB, CMYK or Hexidecimal values. Some color groupings are also displayed in faux magazine spreads to illustrate how to effectively use color with text and photography. A CD-ROM embedded in the book’s cover contains all colors in TIFF format for easy reference. The material’s clean design and organization is impressive. Most of the color arrangements convey a bright, cheery mood — which might be a liability if you’re looking for something dark and/or subtle.

I’ve had this book for a couple of months now, using it on some book cover layouts with pleasing results. The very first color I selected was a sumptuous teal blue. When I entered the values, however, the color came out more like an olive green with way too much yellow (a misprint perhaps?). Despite that glitch, the book’s been beyond useful. In addition to the three or four book covers, I also utilized bits of a color scheme called “Deco Artifice” for my Twitter page. It’s true — seeing colors in print with their CMYK numbers right there takes a lot of the guesswork out of designing stuff.

The Designer’s Toolkit: 1000 Colors is published by Chronicle. Buy at here.

1000 Colors Spread 1

1000 Colors Spread 2

California Girl

Swindle magazine interviews L.A.-based artist Amanda Visell (via the wonderful Grain Edit). Looking around Amanda’s website, I’d say she has the “twisted ’50s animation study” look down pat. Lovely, lovely work. I would so love to have a framed print of this one in my bedroom:

Amanda Visell