buy Flomax no prescription Synthroid without prescription buy buspar buy Singulair online buy Prednisone online Amitriptyline lasix without prescription buy buspar online buy super Levitra online Prednisone without prescription buy trazodone without prescription Zithromax No Prescription Propecia Amoxicillin

Monthly Archives: January 2009

You are browsing the site archives by month.

Please Don’t Ask About Barbara

In honor of awards show season, let’s look at a clip of Barbara Bain winning her third and final Best Actress Emmy for Mission: Impossible in 1969. The victory came in a weak season — against Peggy Lipton and Joan Blondell, really? — but even facing tougher competition she deserved it. Bain and then husband Martin Landau had just left the show after they tried and failed to get a raise, and one can sense a lot of bottled up bitterness surfacing in her acceptance speech. Although the couple would eventually lead another series (Space: 1999), their stormy exit from Mission gave them a difficult reputation in Hollywood from which they’d never recover.

Contrast that with Barbara’s Best Actress Emmy acceptance speech from the previous year. What a classy lady, and what a thoughtful little speech (a refreshing change from the interminable ego-fests on today’s awards shows):

Book Faire

On the sidebar I added an Amazon link spotlighting a few products that yer humble host recommends, stuff that I’ve come across in the last few months. This will be updated throughout the year, but I want to go into a couple of books in more detail, right here.

Penguin By DesignPenguin by Design: A Cover Story 1935-2005 by Phil Baines. This volume, published in 2006, was a Christmas gift from some friends of ours (who happened to be attending the inauguration today). Started by Allen Lane in mid-’30s England, Penguin was the first publishing house to bring affordable and handy paperbacks to the masses. Phil Baines’ text forms a too dry yet serviceable history, but the real star of this book are the covers themselves — arranged chronologically and grouped by series (classics, poetry, contemporary affairs, etc.). Paging through the book, one gets a sense that from the very beginning quality was Penguin’s main m.o. It’s interesting to note that many of these cover designs are quaint and even somewhat dull in and of themselves — but when they are presented here, usually four to a page and surrounded by thematically similar designs from around the same time period, it makes me appreciate the thoughtfulness that went into them. I love the covers’ crafty use of color, the grids, the judicious use of type (mostly Helvetica), and the audacity of the more recent ones. The book contains plenty of gorgeous covers from the classical ’40s up through the freewheeling ’60s and ’70s, and the compilers don’t shy away from including some plainly hideous examples of Penguin’s detour into mass market tastes in the ’80s. It’s a well-rounded and beautifully designed book which I’ve already gotten a lot of inspiration from.

Art & SoleArt & Sole: Contemporary Sneaker Art & Design, written and designed by Intercity. This book reminds me of the Entourage episode in which the character of Turtle goes out of his way to acquire a pair of very pricey designer sneaks. Divided equally in two parts, the first half explores the too-hip arena of limited issue designer Nikes, Adidases, Converses and other brands that Turtle would likely covet. The second half delves into artwork inspired by sneaker culture. There’s a lot of overlap between the two, and part of the fun of this book is seeing how the cultures of fine art, Hip Hop, extreme sports, and hipster collecting intersect with each other. To be honest, I actually liked the first half of this book better than the second. It’s strange to think of a shoe as a work of art — but when a real artist applies his or her handiwork to these babies, they really are more worthy of being displayed on a shelf in pristine condition than worn on the feet. The second part also contains plenty of neat stuff (including some Nike Be@rbricks!). One of the coolest pieces of art in the book is the giant LED-lit shoe created by Finnish design firm Freedom of Creation. I first saw this on, of all places, Kanye West’s weblog. Behold:

Freedom Of Creation Shoe

Weekly Mishmash: January 11-17

Allegro Non Troppo (1977). Like Fantasia, only with an adult, European sensibility (boobies!) and a funky ’70s aesthetic. Animation in a wide variety of styles is bridged with live action scenes with a dictatorial conductor, a harried animator and an orchestra full of old biddies. These black and white scenes are silly and overplayed, but I enjoyed the lack of pretension in these and the animated segments. The real treasure here is Bruno Bozzetto’s whimsical animation and the eye-popping background paintings. My favorite segment is Valse Triste, a Little Match Girl-type story starring a pathetic stray kitty:

Downstairs (1932). John Gilbert was a huge silent star, and the early talkie melodrama Downstairs represented a last gasp for his career. Gilbert himself wrote the story for this one, an intrigue-filled yarn revolving around a European upper class household and its servants in a way that anticipates stuff like Upstairs, Downstairs and Gosford Park. Fascinating and beautifully acted (Gilbert is great as the heel chauffeur), I actually think it’s an undiscovered gem amongst movies from this period. It’s interesting seeing Olga Baclanova in a non-Freaks role, and the ethereal Virginia Bruce has one excellent rant in which she defends her sexual freedom to her new husband (Paul Lukas). No wonder that scene was used in the recent documentary on pre-Code women, although in this context one can appreciate it better. The movie is smoothly directed and fast paced, unusual for this early talkie era. It’s too bad Mr. Gilbert became a self-pitying alcoholic and died a few years later.
Pretty Poison (1968). I first heard about this overlooked dark comedy in Danny Peary‘s seminal book Cult Movies. Although I wouldn’t label it a Cult Classic, the film is bolstered by its frankness and the enthusiasm of the two lead actors. In Norman Bates mode, Anthony Perkins plays a damaged former criminal who takes shelter in a small town. Soon he befriends high school girl Tuesday Weld, a deceptively innocent young lady who proves to be even more screwy in the head than Perkins ever imagined. This film suffers from weirdly looped dialogue and a bland, made-for-TV look, but the story kept me intrigued all the way through (certainly the second half improves over the first). Weld and Perkins give their all and elevate an otherwise routine film into something worth watching.
Susan Slade (1961). One thing I gleaned from this camp-ola melodrama — Connie Stevens should have stuck to TV. She was cute as a button in this pre-nosejob incarnation, sure, but also so out of depth it makes watching this a sometimes painful experience. Coming off like a combination of Tippi Hedren and a Skipper doll, Stevens plays an unwed teenage mother who must choose between two guys who aren’t worthy of her. Lloyd Nolan and Dorothy McGuire are both good as her parents, and Troy Donahue glowers competently enough as the bad stable boy who isn’t quite “bad” enough to steal Connie’s heart. This movie was actually pretty well-done at times, bolstered by beautiful photography and a particularly droolworthy home located on the bluffs of Monterey, California. The house is decorated in high Asian chic — that is until busybody Natalie Shaefer redecorates the whole place in Early American Puke. The film plays itself out in very predictable fashion, but stick around for the burning baby — totally worth it.
Swing Shift Maisie (1943). TCM had a morning of Maisie movies this week; I recorded films #2 (Congo Maisie) and #7 (this one) out of sheer curiosity. Based on Swing Shift, these were little more than program-filling vehicles for the effervescent charm of Ann Southern. Here, her brassy showgirl Maisie takes a job at an aircraft plant while wooing a hunky airman (James Craig, sigh) and keeping her bitchy roommate (Jean Rogers) at bay. Movies like this reveal a lot of interesting stuff about the period they were made in, but I couldn’t take the script’s stupid view of women as harpies who are guided by their silly, selfish emotions and little else. It drove me up a wall!
Syriana (2005). I don’t have much to add here except that this was a good, tough film — at times hard to follow, but the cast underplays nicely and the complicated storyline threads itself out satisfyingly in the end. Preaching to the choir, it didn’t change my mind much about why the U.S. government has to involve itself in things it shouldn’t. The film does reflect the Bush-era zeitgeist so well that it makes me wonder how it will be perceived later on. Future classic or not? Time will decide.

Playing with the Queen of Hearts

Normally I don’t go for sexy cartoon art, but Amy Mebberson’s Disney Retro Pinups are a gorgeous exception. They have a lot of flair and go well beyond the realm of (it gags me to type this) “fan art.” Check out more of Mebberson’s work at her weblog. (via the comments on this Cartoon Brew post)

The Lady with the Gorgeous Gams

Bugle beads a-swingin’, today we have a clip from the new DVD Mitzi Gaynor: Razzle Dazzle! The Special Years. It’s Mitzi and her boy dancers giving their all with “Let Go” from her second variety special in 1969. Fabulous stuff! A tiny YouTube clip doesn’t do this one justice … can’t wait to check out the DVD.

Mini Plasticy Goodness

Action Figures 1

When Christopher’s co-worker Kaori recently went back to her hometown in Japan, she was nice enough to take some requests from both of us. C. wanted her to bring him back a piece of Hamtaro merchandise. You remember Hamtaro, right? The Cartoon Network showed the anime series a few years ago, but the character never caught on in the U.S. My request was for a Kubrick toy. Although I’m not a big toy/action figure collector, I’ve dug the Kubricks ever since first seeing them at the Giant Robot store in San Francisco some years ago.

At first, Kaori had a hard time fulfilling both of our requests. Apparently Hamtaro is one of those things that is no longer popular among the kiddie set. As for the Kubricks, I figured they were everywhere in Japan — preferably sold in those ubiquitous vending machines they have for everything over there. Well, she called around a few places and couldn’t find any. Luckily, this lady was persistent and for that we thank her. She did find one Hamtaro thing — a lovely printed scarf (?). And she managed to locate three toys for me, doubling my desktop plastic figurine menagerie to six! Pictured above, left to right, are a Todd McFarlane Bart Simpson, a Japanese vintage Tony the Tiger figurine, a Kubrick Blythe doll with creepy orange eyes (which I already had), and the new Kubrick toy flanked by two Be@rbricks (also made my Medicom, the company that does Kubricks). Thanks, Kaori!

These Kubrick toys are usually based on characters in movies, comic books, animation or even advertising (they once did a set of Kellogg’s mascot figurines). They come in series of six characters apiece. What’s really cool about them is that they’re “blind boxed,” meaning you don’t know which of the six characters you’ll get until the box is opened. This particular one I just got is “Lefty” from the Japan-only manga Tokyo Tribe2.

Kaori also managed to snag off her own brother two really cool Be@rbricks which were available for a short time last year in Japan. In a promotion with Fox, Pepsi included a limited run of special TV and movie-themed Be@rbricks with bottles of their Pepsi Nex soda (why can’t American Pepsi do something like this?). They also did a series of Star Wars bears last summer. The two that I got are based on The Omen (black with red Omen logo on chest) and Prison Break (dressed in prisoner garb). Medicom makes a wide variety of these things, apparently, from mass market to highly collectible limited editions. Check out the weblog Be@rbrick Love for more. I love my plastic toys.

Action Figures 2