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Monthly Archives: March 2009

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Something Fishy

Although I’m categorically opposed to religious books geared toward children, Jim Roberts’ illustrations for The Man Caught By A Fish are so charming that I scanned a few spreads and uploaded them to my Kiddie Korner flickr set. This was an attempt to make the Biblical tale of Jonah and the whale appealing to the small fry of 1967. Christopher remembers liking this book as a kid — because of the fish, not the religious content (thank goodness).

Man Caught By A Fish 1967

Space: 1977

The commercial heralding the opening of Disneyland’s Space Mountain holds a special memory for me. Growing up in suburban Phoenix, I felt fortunate because Disneyland was located close enough for the family to visit regularly, yet far enough away that the place had acquired a fabulous mystique. Especially to an eight year-old boy. That shot of the Space Mountain vehicle hurtling away into an endless field of stars was pure manna to me back then. “Mom, Dad, we’ve gotta go to Disneyland!!”

Postscript: once the family got to the ride, I was so scared off by the numerous warning signs that I took off and waited at the end of the queue. A few years would pass before I felt brave enough to conquer the Mountain.

Mistresses-in-Chief

Portraits of presidential dalliances throughout U.S. history from British painter Annie Kevan (via Quiddity). These have an intriguing, unfinished quality. Among the thirty portraits is one male — William Rufus DeVane King, who was alleged to have shared more than living quarters with James Buchanan.

Weekly Mishmash: March 8-14

House of Cards (1990). British actor Ian Richardson is the whole show as a scheming House of Parliament member in this 1990 BBC miniseries. Christopher saw this back in the day; it was a first time viewing for me. Absorbing and surprisingly not too dated; Richardson’s soliloquies to the camera and the constant establishing shots of rats crawling around London are highlights in this twisty tale.
Juke Girl PosterJuke Girl (1942). Gritty and well-meaning, if unmemorable, tale of Florida farm workers fits snugly amongst the cycle of Warner Bros. “plight of the common man” melodramas. Ronald Reagan is the picture of blandness in the lead (strange seeing him starring in such a liberal-minded film), playing a drifting farm worker facing off against an exploitative produce distributor. Although the film is titled after Ann Sheridan’s saucy dance hall dame, her character is actually pretty incidental here. What really made this movie worth watching is the supporting cast — Richard Whorf, Gene Lockhart, George Tobias, Alan Hale, and Howard Da Silva. Individually, all of those guys were the kind of undervalued meat-and-potatoes actors that added spice to otherwise standard ’40s b-movies. They’re all great here. Oh, and like a lot of WB films of this era, the cinematography is moody and nice all around. Lots of barroom fights here, too.
The Mirror Crack’d (1980). Those all-star Agatha Christie adaptations from the ’70s and ’80s are guilty pleasures of mine. The Mirror Crack’d came third in line chronologically; after Murder on the Orient Express (1974) and Death on the Nile (1979), preceding Evil Under the Sun (1982, still haven’t seen this although the film’s tie-in paperback was the first “grown up” book I remember reading). Here Angela Lansbury plays Miss Marple, with Elizabeth Taylor and Kim Novak hamming it up as aging movie stars. Rock Hudson and Tony Curtis play the men in their lives. Hands down, Taylor and Novak’s one scene together forms the catty highlight. The rest of the film is somewhat flat and TV movie-like, the kind of thing you’d pick out of the library bins when nothing else looks interesting (which, coincidentally, is how I came across this!). It appears that Christie based her story on a real-life incident involving actress Gene Tierney.
Third Man on the Mountain (1960). James MacArthur plays a young Swiss lad who yearns to climb the same dangerous mountain peak his father died on, in this colorful Disney adventure. It’s a strictly okay production with a few exciting mountain climbing scenes sprinkled amongst the blah drama. MacArthur’s mom, Helen Hayes, has an amusing cameo as a tourist. Ironically, this forgotten movie’s main claim to fame is that it inspired the Matterhorn Bobsleds attraction at Disneyland — making it one of the few cases where the cash-in ride is better than the movie.

Turning Trix

So cool: General Mills is rolling out a series of retro cereal boxes in certain stores. Look at the side-by-side comparison of the ’60s-era Trix box with a new one; those old boxes are so much simpler and more appealing. We looked for these in our local Safeway and couldn’t find them. Guess I’ll have to check out Target next. TheDieline.com is a weblog devoted to package design and re-designs (thanks to Eric for pointing me there).

Book Review: This Is For You

Rob Ryan - This Is For YouHere’s something I should have written about around Valentine’s Day, but that’s all right. Here at scrubbles, we do not strictly observe time tables. This Is For You comes from the fertile mind of the amazing British artist Rob Ryan. Here Ryan uses his paper cutting skills to tell the story of a young man seeking to fill the void in his heart. The narrative is nicely told, if a bit hackneyed, but the real star here is the intricate handiwork pictured on every page. Although the silhouetted imagery looks as if it were computer generated, they are in fact paper cutouts photographed against white backgrounds (one can even see shadows here and there). Aesthetically, the resulting works lie halfway between Victorian froufrou and the obsessive-compulsive artwork produced by the mentally challenged. I can’t imagine the man hours Ryan put into this, a slim and lovely source of inspiration.

This is for You was originally published in England back in 2007; this recent edition comes from Chronicle. Buy at Amazon.com here.

Rob Ryan - This Is For You