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Friday, November 29, 2002
albumI've been inside listening to Radio Bastet - Vintage Bellydance Music while all the crazy people are out there shopping (or, even worse, working). It includes some kitschy album cover galleries. Unlike Exotica, this isn't watered-down, Westernized stuff. It's real. This comes via the Sound Scavengers list.

Yeeks. It was the birthday of Chris four days ago, and I totally forgot. Happy birthday, neighbor!!

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2002
Yay. I got the new issue of 'Print' magazine today, with its Digital Design Annual of the best designed websites, CD-ROMs, kiosks, etc. Lots of neat visual inspirations in there. One of their better choices was Sleeping Giants, a photo/narrative feature on the giant field in the Arizona desert where old military aircraft waits to be restored.
The issue also had an article on John Haddock, artist/provocateur with a cool online portfolio. I especially liked ISPs, a collection of manipulated internet pr0n photos with the subjects digitally removed -- which only serves to prove that average people (or at least the nymphomaniac exhibitionist ones) have horrible tastes in interior decorating.

Disco 101, a survey of influential dance songs chosen by Barry Walters. "Armed and Extremely Dangerous" by First Choice -- magnifique!

Tuesday, November 26, 2002
A fine eulogy for Pulse!, the free music magazine produced by Tower Records. Tower was my hangout during my college years. The Tempe, AZ location was right around the corner from the ASU College of Fine Arts building, which ensured that I never missed a month of Pulse! It was always lively and eclectic, going way beyond being a mere promotional vehicle. Even though I've visited Tower less often in the ensuing years, I always made sure to pick up a copy of the mag whenever I was there - for its excellent writing and coverage of non-mainstream musicians and musical genres. It will be missed.

Bond Girl Name Generator at moviefone.com. Just call me "Dutchess Whetmore" from now on.

Monday, November 25, 2002
Things that diverted and bemused me today:

Sunday, November 24, 2002

performer performer performer

As much as I love vintage Motown music, the photography of the artists at that time was drop dead gorgeous. Smooth-skinned faces full of youthful hope, not a sequin or bow tie out of place, posed against a spaciously lit backdrop. The effect was hyper-real and glamourous. Sometimes, if the photo wasn't cropped too much, you'd see an elegant logo - an overlapping "JK" in moderne type. These were taken by the James Kriegsmann studio, and I later found out his work extends far beyond '60s Motown. Kriegsmann had a long and prolific career photographing every kind of mid-20th century entertainer - crooners, jazz musicians, garage rock groups, burlesque queens, comedians and whoever else was in New York at the time and wanted a nice publicity portrait. There isn't much on the web about Kriegsmann, but the Michael Ochs Archives has a good illustrated history of his studio. The Ochs photos are small and have annoying text on them, but you still get a sense of that starry-eyed quality - captured in a black and white 8x10.

Saturday, November 23, 2002
My friend Eric sent along a link to The Museum of Black Superheroes. The history page reveals that the very first black superhero was Whiteface, an offensive "scaredy cat" character drawn in caricature.

Friday, November 22, 2002
While pondering the inherent bizarreness of seeing the headline "Miss World Riots" on every news channel, I present a grab bag of interesting links:

  • An exhaustive study was made of New Yorkers' trash from the last 100 years. Cool findings. (thanks, Christopher!)
  • The Kennedy Dynasty vs. the Bush Dynasty - a hilarious cartoon by Ward Sutton.
  • This Salon piece on Dan Clowes and Adrian Tomine has already been passed around a lot, but it's definitely worth reading - even if, at one point, the author never makes it clear whether she's writing about 'Ghost World' the comic or 'Ghost World' the movie.
  • Another article on the AMC channel's new direction. Yeah, I know it's been said here before, but AMC really, really sucks now. They're EVIL!!
  • Finally, Christopher and I are celebrating a milestone today. Eight years ago, we first met. I haven't been able to rid of him since. :) Happy anniversary!

Thursday, November 21, 2002
albumSeeing this made my heart leap - complete Bozo the Clown records available for download at Basic Hip Digital Oddio. They came out on Capitol in the '50s, arranged by Billy May around the same time he was doing Sinatra's albums. Talk about an odd pairing! More classic kiddie records can be heard here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002
Somebody paid over 100 Grand for a jar of Elvis hair.

Weird Food Permutations: P.B. Slices is peanut butter in individually wrapped slices, a la processed cheese. Eww. This must be a Southern thing. (via Jwalk).

yodaOrigami time. Lar's Origami Gallery has lots of neat examples, like this adorable Yoda finger puppet. Make sure to check out the page devoted to Kirigami, the art of cut paper. Pretty.

Pitchfork just finished compiling their Top 100 Albums of the 80s. Very hip. Off the top of my head, here are ten albums from that decade that I still like listening to:
Prince & the Revolution 'Parade', Depeche Mode 'Black Celebration', Bruce Springsteen 'Born in the U.S.A.', Alison Moyet 'Alf', Madonna 'Like a Prayer', Talking Heads 'Little Creatures', Eurythmics 'Be Yourself Tonight', 'They Might Be Giants' (1st album), Elvis Costello 'Trust', Everything but the Girl 'Baby, the Stars Shine Bright'

Monday, November 18, 2002
"Fly Like an Eagle" (mp3 file) as sung by a group of enthusiastic, yet tone-deaf, children. Makes the Langley Schools Music Project sound like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Big thanks to Jennifer Sharpe for this!

Sunday, November 17, 2002
teevee It may have been the constant raves from Matt and Max that tipped me over, but I finally did it. I got a TiVo. Since our VCR was stolen 15 months ago, I missed being able to tape movies off TCM that were on in the middle of the night - which is, of course, the best time of day on their schedule. It's taking some getting used to (I have, er, problems with the remote), but I love the convenience of being able to organize what to watch, as opposed to haphazardly coming across shows while channel surfing. Now I control the TV, not the other way around. I got the 60 hour Series 2 model to go with our DirecTV satellite service. Unfortunately, DirecTV's much ballyhooed $4.99 a month TiVo service is only good with the combo satellite/DVR units. Drat.
I've been getting into the Wish List feature, which highlights upcoming programs within a certain category, director, or actor. If you go beyond the (extensive) lists TiVo provides, however, it doesn't quite work. As a test, I tried doing a wish list on Joyce Compton, a semi-obscure comedienne who did a ton of movies in the '20s-'50s. TiVo didn't list anything with her, despite how at least one of her movies (the giant gorilla flick Mighty Joe Young) is playing on the Sci-Fi channel this Monday.
The longer you use TiVo, the more recommendations it makes based on what you taped. This is a strange feature, as you have to cotinually use the "thumbs up/down" buttons on your remote to further refine the suggestions. Otherwise they just go crazy. Because we like "South Park", TiVo apparently thinks we'll also enjoy "That '70s Show" and "3rd Rock from the Sun". Wrong-o!
Despite its faults, the TiVo makes a good addition to our living room. This purchase wasn't without some conflict, however: Christopher has poo-poohed this as an unneeded extravagance since day one, but I could see him using it to tape his favorite gory reality program Trauma: Life in the ER.

Friday, November 15, 2002
The Apocalypse, a comic by Ivan Brunetti specially made for people trapped in a joyless office on a Friday afternoon. See more of Ivan's stuff here. I love his pieces on Francoise Hardy, Louise Brooks and James Thurber.

The Scrubbles Store now has a tote bag emblazoned with the lovely "Girl Reading a Book" drawing from my portfolio. Take a look!

Thursday, November 14, 2002
Neat story about an artist who carves tiny sculptures out of pencil leads - without using a magnifying glass. Wow.

Old skool NBA logos (via Speak Up). If I could go back to the year 1981, I'd like to ask the Denver Nuggets: "What the hell were the you thinking? Rainbow colors? Disco font? Chunky skyline? Eek!!"

Wednesday, November 13, 2002
I was digging around Lipsinka's fabbo website when I came across this page devoted to one of my favorite movies, the 1959 Imitation of Life directed by Douglas Sirk. It has so many levels of complexity - as kitsch, as subversive art, as social commentary. Hopefully, the critical success of Todd Haynes' Sirk tribute Far From Heaven will get this film a proper DVD reissue. I'd watch it endlessly if only for the lush imagery - from the opening credits (swishy brush script font, diamonds cascading on black velvet) to the end (mournful shot of a funeral procession as seen through an antique store window). It's also one of the few movies where I can quote several lines from memory:
lana"Well, I'm going up and up and up--and nobody's going to pull me down!"
"I want to be with the lambs and not with the goats when Judgement Day comes."
"I'm white. WHITE!!"
"Sure, you've given me a big house, the best schooling, beautiful clothes -- everything but a mother's love!"
"Oh mother, stop acting!"
"Sarah Jane -- DON'T!!"

Mike Daddino has a daunting task ahead of him: writing about seemingly every rendition of "Send In The Clowns" on his weblog, Land of a Thousand Dances. The essays are so insightful, they make me want to check a few of them (despite how that particular song gives me hives).

Tuesday, November 12, 2002
Cintra Wilson's essay on puppyish '70s teen idol Robby Benson is quite funny. Oddly, she doesn't mention that high school wrestling movie he did where Maureen McCormick played his girlfriend. That's a Robby Benson movie, right?

Steve Martin is producing a gay remake of 'Hart to Hart' - I think I know what will be on Max's TiVo list!

"When did everything become so dumb?" I can so relate to this. The article basically says that dumbness in pop culture has always been with us, it's just more aggressively marketed now. If I were 18, I'd be embarrassed about that thought - pandering to the youthful masses just ain't what it used to be (he says as he retreats to his 'Facts of Life' repeats and Go-Gos videos). Via the excellent The Minor Fall, The Major Lift.

Monday, November 11, 2002
Love this gallery of old newspaper illustration art from The American Newpaper Repository, an organization that aims to preserve bound newspapers that libraries are throwing out and replacing with microfilm. The website also has some vintage articles - including this 1902 piece on tattooing.

Sunday, November 10, 2002
imageThe Wolfsonian is a museum of 20th century design in Miami Beach, and their website is a fine place to dig around. Looks like it has a ton of gorgeous streamline moderne and art deco objects. We found out about this place while watching the Antiques Roadshow on PBS.
It's unusual that I'd come away with some valuable knowledge from Antiques Roadshow, since I hate it so (my partner is the one who watches it constantly). I can't handle how it perpetrates the idea that old things are worthwhile only if they have monetary value. Even worse is the show's repetitiveness. Every encounter between the antique appraisers and the jus' folks bringing in something from the attic plays out exactly the same, every time. A typical exchange:
ANTIQUES EXPERT (wearing a suit): What did you bring for us today?
OLDER WOMAN (wearing a floral print tee and sweat pants): Well, I have this wooden thing. It looks kind of old. I only know it's been in the family for years. Me and my husband keep it by the door to hold our mittens, you know it gets cold out there sometimes. Why, I was just telling my sister Effie --
AE (interrupting): I was excited about this piece from the first moment you showed it to us. What you have here is a rare candelabra from the court of King Francis XVII of Belgium. These precious objects were lovingly carved by monks over a span of several decades, then stained with the ink of a thousand squids. Never in my years of appraising have I seen anything like this.
OW: Really, well I'll be. What's it worth?
AE: Well, if it were in mint condition it would fetch $150,000 at auction - but because there are some chips on the bottom, this one is worth about $4,500.
OW: Oh, my lord! I had no idea!
AE (chuckling condescendingly): I bet you're not going to use that as a mitten holder anymore.
(Cue GRAPHIC showing item name and price. OLDER WOMAN has a smile frozen on her face until, off camera, she's mugged in the parking lot.)

Friday, November 08, 2002
Artist Kenny Scharf is doing a series for the Cartoon Network. This proud owner of a B-52's "Girl from Ipanema Goes to Greenland" 12" single - which features a Scharf cover design - will make sure to watch. (thx, Christopher!)

Helpful advice for anyone appearing on MTV's Cribs: "20. Fish tanks may only house piranhas or sharks (a.k.a. 'The Rottweiler and Domerman of the Sea')" Another fine Boing Boing link.

Thursday, November 07, 2002
Top Winner Thrift is a neat idea: a limited edition line of Puma shoes made with recycled thrift store clothing. Each pair is unique. I want one. (via Archinect, which has become a daily read lately)

comicCool Book I Can't Wait To Read - The Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Kim Deitch. Expanded from a comic published in RAW magazine about ten years ago, this book follows the story of a 1930s animator (and his creation, Waldo the Cat) as the Fleischeresque studio where he works makes the transition from wild and jazzy B&W to intensely cute Technicolor. I just recently learned that Deitch is the son of Gene Deitch, an animation director who is probably best known for doing those weird, echo-ey Tom & Jerry cartoons of 1960-62 (if you haven't seen them, trust me -- they're among the most bizarre 'toons ever made). Kim first made his mark in the underground comix scene of the late '60s, and this book really does bridge the gap between those two distinct worlds. Every frame has this dense, hallucinatory quality that's unforgettable. This interview gives you an idea of what makes him tick.

The family that ages together, stays together. Check it out, a mesmerizing photo piece. (via Boing Boing)

Wednesday, November 06, 2002
No links here, just some insect/greenery album covers I collected:

cover cover cover cover cover

Note to parents - if your little girl asks to have her ears pierced, please say yes.

Fstop - "the first collection of pictures by designers for designers" - aims to stomp out cliched stock photography. Big names like David Carson are participating, with spotty results. Still, if you've got $500 to spend on grainy public bathroom photos, this is the place.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002
Are the '70s coming back in product design? Compare the Memorex Spheres video ball (now available at Target) with the groovy JVC Videosphere. Same thing, different eras - significantly, the Memorex adds a cute egg-shaped remote.

Monday, November 04, 2002
A new interview with "ephemeral films" preservationist Rick Prelinger (via Alt-log). If you haven't seen the internet archive of these treasures, do so now. Interestingly, he's working on setting up a similar archive for paper ephemera - yay.

Aldo recently pointed me to the site of Wendy Carlos - perhaps the most famous musician who was born a He, then became a She. You won't find any of that on the site, however. Ms. Carlos has even changed her old album graphics to read "Wendy" instead of "Walter"! That's OK; I still have a soft spot for the moog classic Switched On Bach.

Sunday, November 03, 2002
posterThe Art of James Bond is a wow. A completist's look into the visual side of 007. I've been awed by Maurice Binder's title sequence designs going back to the very first Bond I saw, For Your Eyes Only. Go there (or just stay here and count the number of phallic symbols in the graphic at right).

Also of interest - Anthony Lane's unique take on the Bond phenomenon: "The correlation between the buzz of a Bond song and the value of the surrounding film is not an exact science, but as a quick tip it's hard to beat: in brief, if you hear Shirley Bassey belting out a tune until the buttons pop off her dress, stay with the picture, whereas the barnyard wailing of Sheena Easton or Lulu should tell you that cinema history is unequivocally not being made."

Saturday, November 02, 2002
Christopher needs help with something that's been racking his brain for a while. If anyone knows what vintage toy (er, "toy") he's writing about, please hit the TALK button below and end his misery:
In the mid to late 1960s -- during all the "peace" stuff -- there was a "toy" that was advertised on television for only about a year. This was not a toy to play with; rather, a toy into which a person would place a piece of paper with something written on it. Then, the "toy" was left somewhere (like a public place, a fence, whatever) to be found be another person. This new person would write something and put it in the "toy" and then leave it in a public place. I think the point was to have this item travel the world and then someday (somehow) come back to the sender -- like a message in a bottle, or a gnome on holiday.

The "toy" was red plastic, made of two symmetrical, roundish halves that joined horizontically. It was about six inches in diameter (although for some reason I recall it came in a bigger and smaller size). At one spot of the join was a hole that sorta looked like a mouth. Above the "mouth" were two "googlie" eyes. The bottom was flat (so it could sit on a flat area).

I remember seeing these once in a grocery store (when I was a wee lad); but have never seen it since -- not in any antique store, television program, book, toy show, toy museum, or anywhere. Please put me out of my misery and tell me what these were called! (Also helpful would be the name of the manufacturer.)

Friday, November 01, 2002
imageI love tooling around the Artchive. Not only does it have decent biographies on the great artists, the larger-than-usual pictures that accompany them look excellent on (shhh!) mix CD covers. I used them in the art for my latest mix, which juxtaposes Ingres, Twombly and a c.1972 ad from Ebony magazine to nice effect. If anyone wants to trade up, let me know.

Eerily beautiful photograph (via Consumptive).