Welcome to Scrubbles, the online repository of random sightings, thoughts and curiosities from Phoenix designer and scribbler Matt Hinrichs.
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Monday, July 31, 2000
Prepare to spend several hours going through the Slipcue site (like I just did), written by one "Joe Sixpack." The Rock Music Reference Books section is especially good. He seems lucid, friendly, and obviously passionate about an eclectic array of stuff. Of course, I'd kill for his record collection.

Required reading - Cathy Young's Salon story on the "child free" movement. Sort of a riposte to this New York Times article, which is better written and more even-handed in tone. Young thinks the "childless by choice" movement all boils down to simple "what's in it for me?" whininess, missing the broader point entirely. We as a society equate the very act of breeding as some kind of accomplishment in itself. This is wrong. Personally, I'm not against children - I'm against people who see their parental status as a right and not a privilege. I see this in yuppie types who trot out their child like some prized pig at the County Fair, or women who wield a stroller through crowds like a tank in battle: "Outta my way, I got a baby here!" Give me a break. Emphasize quality, not quantity, in parenting - then you'll have a better argument. Meantime, I'll avoid places where families congregate like the plague.

Saturday, July 29, 2000
From an Epic records press release:

Though only fourteen years old, the members of PYT have been performing together for several years and in fact, best friends since they were five years old! Lauren, Tracy, Lydia, and Ashley each bring an impressive range of singing and dancing to the group -- skills they have honed since early childhood in live theater, television, radio, and musical revues.

A footnoote: throughout the tour, Lauren and Tracy have been diligently working on an oversize "thank you" card to their fans, hand drawn with hearts, puppies and turtles. At every stop, Lydia makes sure to add a souvenir Beanie Baby to her collection. And Ashley is just tending to her kitten, Mr. Fluffkins.

Friday, July 28, 2000
While listening to Madonna's Like a Virgin (I was cleaning out old tapes and found it. Guilty pleasure, OK?), a thought came to me - whatever happened to the guitar solo? "Dress You Up" is a fluffy dance tune, but it also had a rippin' electric guitar solo. Truly one of those quintessentially "80s" moments. Since they were so common back in '85, though, nobody thought much of it. Nowadays, guitar solos on pop songs are rare, unless it's from some horrible group like the Goo Goo Dolls. Just another one of those things - like rotary-dial telephones and pockets in library books - that faded away without anyone noticing.

Christopher got his other gift. A Howard Pierce deer figurine - similar to this, but without the tree trunk. Pierce worked in California from the '40s to the early '90s and specialized in semi-abstract cute animals - sort of a halfway point between Disney and Brancusi.

Thursday, July 27, 2000
Today is Christopher's birthday. Why not go to his home page and wish him a happy 41st? We already started celebrating last night with dinner at a fancy seafood restaurant, then I gave him his first gift, the new book about the Stork Club. He'll have to wait a few hours longer for his second gift.

Wednesday, July 26, 2000
Fans of austere, quasi-fascist 1930s WPA architecture (OK, I guess I'm the only one) are in for a treat - James Lileks has added a great Armory tribute to his Minneapolis website.

Gawd - how true is this??

Tuesday, July 25, 2000
singleDownloading MP3s off Usenet is the greatest thing. Sure, with Napster and the like you can get whatever you want instantaneously, blah, blah, blah. But I'll bet most people use it only to get more of the same stuff they already like. Some of the best music I've ever heard has been stumbled over by accident. Which is where the beauty of Usenet groups comes in - the sheer randomness of it all makes it a mind-boggling place to just dive in. Here are some recent finds:
"Step by Step" - Joe Simon Taken off the '70s newsgroup. Released in 1973, shortly after his hit "Drowning in the Sea of Love" (pictured above), this one is more upbeat, almost proto-disco in feel. Warm vocals and shuffling beats. Melodically similar to Laura Lee's "Rip Off".
"The Greatest Actor" - Wanda Jackson Taken off the '60s newsgroup. Obscure single that peaked in the 110s - a teary-eyed, dramatic country-pop song that Jackson recorded well past her more interesting rockabilly stage. Still, the lyrics are awesome, using stage/acting metaphors to vividly illustrate what a jerk Wanda's guy was. I feel for you, honey.
"[Title Forgotten]" by Sheila Taken off the French newsgroup. I love vintage French pop. Don't know anything about Sheila, who judging from this ditty appears to be a more hayseed France Gall. More obnoxious than usual, which says a lot! Lots of clapping and perky call-and-response vocals.

I want this - ultraslick photography of cheap, kitschy plastic toys, available in a limited edition book for $99. Looks like a few of the Campus Cuties are in there, too.

Desktop patterns - why is it so hard to find really great ones? Zeldman is an old reliable, and Huge Magazine's desktops are incredibly varied and well done (I have one of the Tiki mug patterns at work, and the orange swirly desktop in the "nice patterns" section goes well with my tangerine iMac at home). But other than those, I've never come across other good, subtle, non-cliche desktop patterns anywhere on the web.

Monday, July 24, 2000
Cool site - Mac's Museum of Cardboard and Paper Records. I especially dug this one, which shows that Diana Ross has always beena bit of a money-grubbing hussy.

Sunday, July 23, 2000
We went thrifting yesterday and found this bowl. It could either be a) a rare Scandinavian design from the fifties worth untold thousands, or b) somebody's eighth grade shop class project. Either way, it's beautiful.

I've been reading the new Entertainment Weekly, a special issue showcasing the best-ever images from the magazine. Highly recommended, but with a few caveats. First, it's heavy on the current, the now, the happenin'. I've been a faithful EW reader since the beginning, and I have the files to prove this mag has had a lot of gorgeous photos and illustrations of non "hot" subjects. I guess it was skewered toward more famous personalities to sell more magazines. Also, why were the majority of photos and illustrations from the last three years? Design-wise, the magazine peaked around 1994 and has gone downhill since then - a fact nobody at EW is willing to admit to.

Meaningless lists - gotta love 'em. Here's a list of Stephin Merritt's favorite musical pieces of the 20th century - one for each year going back to 1900 (found via Josh Blog). Great choices, but why so many novelty pieces from the last 30 years?

Friday, July 21, 2000
Read an article today on the resurgence of the kind of splashy, big budget musical-based TV commercials that were popular 30-40 years ago. It's amazing how many of these ads I still remember, near the tail-end of the trend in the late 70s/early 80s:

Underoos Kids in underwear/t-shirt sets printed with superhero graphics: "Underoos are fun to wear/Yeah, something super new in underwear"
Vidal Sassoon Various cheerful people (model-type, old lady, two little girls, etc.) each sing a line about how wonderful Vidal Sassoon hair products are: "If you don't look good, we don't look good/Vidal Sassoon"
Toffee-Fay Old man sings to pouty grandchild a show-bizzy tune about Toffee-Fay candy: "Toffee-Fay it's too good for kids/Toffee-Fay it's made for grownups" (This one seriously offended me back then!)
Enjoli "Average" woman sultrily sings about Enjoli perfume: "I can bring home the bacon/Fry it up in a pan/And never never let you forget you're a man/Enjoli"
USA Today B-list celebrities sing about USA Today: "I read it every day/For movies, books and plays"
Kellogg's Odd campaign showing cheery suburbanites enjoying cereal, sung to the antique '20s showtune "Great Day": "Got to eat my All-Bran/To make the call/And to face the day"

Attention cell phone users: next time you're loudly gabbing away in public, broadcasting your private matters to everyone around you, people like me and this guy are all around you - fuming, bubbbling cauldrons of hate who are just this close to smashing your little yuppie execu-toy to bits. Thank you.

Thursday, July 20, 2000
My article on Irwin Chusid's book Songs in the Key of Z got published in The Arizona Republic today. Since they're too stingy to post it online, I'll post it here (ignore the Onion-esque headline). Mr. Chusid was very patient while I fumbled for an eternity, trying to remember a question that wasn't in my notes.

Watched the Turner Classic Movies interview with Betty Hutton tonight. The show was nice; she's still quite energetic and appealing, if a little too brassy. A early clip of her singing with an orchestra, however, knocked me out. "Old Man Mose" - she was a firecracker in that one, completely "out there" in an unselfconscious way. Many newer female performers owe a little debt to her, including Gwen Stefani and Bjork (who, coincidentally, covered Betty's song "It's Oh So Quiet").

Wednesday, July 19, 2000
Valley Bank lounge 1973This is strange - from the August 1973 issue of Phoenix magazine, concept sketches of a nightclub in downtown Phoenix's newest hotspot, the Valley Bank Center (now the Bank One building). "The Prime Interest, located at the concourse level, will feature a cocktail lounge and separate dining/dancing area." A veritable swingers' paradise, I'm sure. Of course, it may have never looked this exciting. When I first went there in the mid-'90s, the Eero Saarinen tables and chairs were all that remained - and they were gone within two years. The mirrored ceiling is a nice touch; very Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.

Oh, the pain: a trip through music industry press junket hell. (from the Phoenix New Times)

Tuesday, July 18, 2000
Whenever the postman delivers one of those wonderful yellow, squishy Jiffylite® envelopes, I light up like a kid at Christmastime. This happened yesterday, as I was greeted by a package that turned out to be from gogaga internet radio. I entered one of their online contests - and won! The prize? Installation Sonore by the French duo Rinocerose. The disc is mostly subtle (almost too subtle) chi-chi house music with occasional guitars. Appropriate background music for fashion shows, preferably with models in form-fitting silver jumpsuits and stick-straight blonde hair. Did I mention that gogaga is the greatest? They also sent me two nifty gogaga pencils.

Hazards of summer - sunburn, mosquitoes and bad movies.

Monday, July 17, 2000
Hey, imagine that - I got linked! A big thanks to Tom, who maintains Blue Lines in London - the first (and only) weblog linking to Scrubbles. Includes a nice take on all the criticism (specifically this article) from the recent flood of useless weblogs clogging up Blogger and the like.

More cool plastic - French designer Jean Pierre Vitrac donated the pull-apart picnic set on this page to the Scottsdale show. Very innovative.

ChattertonMy review of Frisco Jenny (1933) got posted on the imdb a few days ago. It's basically a little essay on Ruth Chatterton, the fascinatingly obscure actress who starred in it. Here's a picture of her in a 1930 drama called Sarah and Son with Fredric March. Apparently, she got an Oscar nomination for this - how ironic that both picture and actress are pretty much forgotten today. I wonder which movie stars of today will be remembered in 2070?

The Los Angeles Times has accepted the lowly 'ñ' into its pages, after printing a few embarassing mistakes. Fiñally. (LA Weekly, scroll down to second item)

Sunday, July 16, 2000
Working on getting an archive going for In My Room tonight. It's about time!

Saturday, July 15, 2000
A postscript to the sign story posted below: me and Christopher were driving down the same road today, and, sadly, the sign has been torn down. We stopped to poke around and see if it had been trashed. The sign was sitting in the back, sawed in half where the support beam joins the signpost. Since it was still on the property, we decided to just leave it there. Thanks to Christopher, I was able to at least snap of photo of it on the next-to-last day it was standing!

We went out to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art today to see a show called Pop Plastics: Molding the Shape of the 1960s. Lots of groovy household items on display, including this "Pump" radio and some of these clocks, made the place look like Austin Powers' pad. Linked images are from the site of Joe Kunkel, who donated a lot of stuff to this exhibit.

Friday, July 14, 2000
I pass by the sign at right every morning on the way to work. It's my favorite sign. The vaguely colonial shape has been painted a blinding white. The address - hastily written with black, stylized numbers - is off center. Stenciled-in diamonds, a star and a copper border add an off-kilter "folk art" look. It truly is beautiful. The building next to it is being renovated, which is why this photo was taken - to give it some posterity.

Eye-opening article on how most music critics at major publications are over 50, and how they cope with writing about stuff which is meant for teens. The geezer-ish Robert Hilburn of the L.A. Times is 60, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer's rock critic is an 81 year-old woman! I don't know if this is inspirational or puke-inducing.

Quick - can you name the top pop single in the country this week? A gold star if youguessed "Everything You Want" by Vertical Horizon. Now, I've never heard this one, butbased on that cliche title and band name, I know I hate it. According to Billboard, it's popular on alternative radio (sound effect: final nail in coffin).

Thursday, July 13, 2000
Had a nice. leisurely lunch hour today with two slices of cheese pizza, a magazine, and two photocopied articles. The first, Grace Mirabella's excellent account of the rise and fall of her own Mirabella magazine from Brill's Content. I squirmed as she recalled how her once-great mag turned sour, a unique property that gradually morphed into just another vapid women's rag.

The second article was piece on Survivor in the July 10 New Yorker. Funny quote: "The show bears as much relation to reality as a corporate retreat does to regular office life; it's an absurd, elaborate fake ..."

The magazine was a new one modestly called Revolution, an attempt at selling DJ culture to the masses. It's actually very slick, and very good - and will probably get a slot in next month's In My Room.

This is an interesting story (link no longer available) about Juanita Moore, the actress who played Lana Turner's maid in Imitation of Life. She was nominated for an Oscar for that one, but then she never got a sizeable film role again. On the flipside, she's still working and sounds as pleasant as ever.

Wednesday, July 12, 2000
iconHere it is - the Scrubbles icon! It's from Zeldman's Pardon My Icons. I tried to make it an official icon on Weblog's icon page, but I didn't notice that feature was only available for older pages. Oh well.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the icon is of Lady Penelope from the 60s Brit kids show Thunderbirds. The series used puppets, neatly detailed sets and spaceships in a process called "Marionation." I remember the puppets were real creepy - marble eyes, waxy hair and blank, mannequin-like expressions. The men all had thick eyebrows and square jawlines (actually, you know who currently looks like a Thunderbird? George Clooney.) There was at least one feature film - Thunderbirds Are GO! . - which I'm dyin' to see. Here's the poster.

There's another icon at Zeldman's site taken from Yma Sumac's Voice of the Xtabay album cover. Exotic!

Due to Blogger problems, I'm reposting everything from July 9 and 10.

Here's a twist on the same sex marriage debate - an article written by a lesbian who opposes it. Yes, some of us do think this way, even if the mainstream media hardly ever shows it. Read on.

Big Brother=stupid. Earlier tonight, when the roommates started painting a chicken with nail polish, that's when I tuned out. These people are just too idiotic to care about!

Cool site devoted to Louis Wain - the turn-of-the-century English illustrator who drew cats, then went crazy. Then he drew more cats.

An occupational hazard for us designers who deal with client-supplied stuff - bizarre "doctored" photos. Here's a detail of this one photo we got below, along with an excerpt from their press release (emphasis mine):

Windmill Suite"Two unique benefits of this hotel chain are the convenience of Windmill's spin on the traditional continental breakfast and the ease of traveling with pets. Guests can select the time desired for the cheerful a.m. delivery of the complimentary Windmill Inn Good Morning consisting of hot beverage, orange juice, muffin and newspaper. And if your four-legged family members join in on family vacations, the Windmill Suites will gladly welcome your pets at no additional charge."

Methinks they forgot something at the photo shoot.

Welcome to my blog.
Some rules are in order here.
My first rule is to never use the word "blog" again. I don't like that word. It conjures up images of some vaguely unappetizing snack of the future, to be eaten with Slurm. Yuck.
My second rule is to always be different, readable, fun and interesting. Most pages of this type are too self-absorbed, whiny and clique-ish. If you're looking for more of that, go somewhere else. This page will have a few links, but will also be content filled and nutritious, too!

Tuesday, July 11, 2000
Fave MP3 of the moment: "The Invaders" by Hal Blaine. Fantastic minor-key 1967 instrumental that could be the soundtrack to some long lost sci-fi flick. Of course, Blaine was one of the hottest session drummers on the '60s L.A. scene, so the percussion is mixed way up front. Moog blips, go-go organs and eerie voices complete the spacey-ness.

Posting to Blogger for the first time. Hope it works. Meantime, here's a fascinating hand-made snow done exhibit to look at.