Friday, January 31, 2003
Envy time: Mena of Dollar Short made a lovely travelogue of her trip to Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea . Apparently it was freezing cold and empty, which IMHO is the perfect way to go.
Thursday, January 30, 2003
100 Favorite Moments on Television. I assembled this page, but can't take full credit - it's copied from the March 1991 issue of the short-lived magazine 'Egg'. Some of their selections might seem a trifle dated today, but I can definitely see why I held onto it all this time - it's hilarious. (btw, I did this in PageSpinner, which is becoming my HTML editor of choice)
Now I have a question for you - what are your memorable moments on television since 1991? Click the "TALK" button for my contributions.
The New York Times on John Garfield (thanks Christopher!). Turner Classic Movies is saluting the feisty actor next month with a new documentary and several of his movies. I'm planning to watch the doc and his final film, He Ran All the Way -- which is being recorded based solely on this killer publicity photo.
Wednesday, January 29, 2003
I've been digging Repeat, Pitchfork's latest daily feature. The idea is simple: short reviews of unjustly overlooked songs, old or new, obscure or not. Hey - someone else noticed the guitar solo in Hall & Oates' "Kiss On My List" is pretty sweet.
Louise Fili's official site is a beaut. Fili's elegant, retro flavored designs have been an influence going back to her '80s tenure with Pantheon Books.
Tuesday, January 28, 2003
Proof that, yes, the U.S. government can do good, productive things: the National Recording Registry. In what promises to be an aural counterpoint to the National Film Registry, this organization will select fifty historically significant sound recordings a year for preservation. Their first fifty range from Edison wax cylinders to Grandmaster Flash's hip hop classic, "The Message". More info in this Hollywood Reporter story. Neat!
Sitting in the dentist's waiting room this morning, I picked up a copy of 'Smithsonian' and started idly reading this article on Frida Kahlo. Which is strange, since Kahlo affects me in the same way a Parkinson's-afflicted dentist using a rusty drill and no anesthesia would. I saw a couple of her paintings as part of a Mexican art exhibit two years ago, and was surprised at how unsubtle and lacking in technique they were. Perhaps her worst legacy is in inspiring untold numbers of lesser women artists with her self-obsessed "woe is me" shtick. She'd get, like, a paper cut, then paint a self portrait with her chest cavity ripped open, blood stains on her dress, beating heart surrounded with a yellow glow. Whatever.
I'm still dying to see what Salma Hayek did to her, though.
Salon.com has an article on Bollywood that's almost worth enduring a hundred Mercedes Benz ads to reach.
Sunday, January 26, 2003
"For 17 years, I have been finding slides ... " The people behind the Found Slide Foundation sent along a link to their found photo site after viewing my own. Strange images, all apparently "100% guaranteed found at random on city streets."
Saturday, January 25, 2003
Although my s.o. would disagree, this is not me.
Friday, January 24, 2003
In the span of one day, my desk decor has gone from turn of the century cluttered to minimalist. My department at work is moving this weekend, for the fourth time in the last five years. At least we're going back to the seventh floor, home to the most excellent break room in the entire building.
Anyhow, cleaning up my desk allowed me to revisit my favorite desk tchochke, a vintage postcard Christopher gave me shortly after our San Francisco trip in 1997. These old linen postcards are great - but they're infinitely better when they've been found used, dashed off to somebody somewhere then forgotten. Postcard messages (when you can decipher the handwriting) are usually a mix of bland salutations and cryptic remarks or in-jokes. This one's postmarked from Los Angeles July 6, 1949 and sent to one L.P. Range in Lincolnville, PA:
Hello cousins one and all. Weather here is grand & tempered by fine ocean breezes. Times not any better yet. Tell Dad when he wants to please answer 1/2 my question or I will hold him responsible by past mail ha ha! Guess I will have to go fishing soon. Hope you are all OK. So long. Don't ans till you are in humor to ans! - Cous Mark Range
Odd that Mr. Range didn't mention how his postcard shows the Golden Gate Bridge, yet the description on the reverse says it's the Oakland Bay Bridge. I wonder if he was ever there in the first place?
Thursday, January 23, 2003
The Year The Music Dies - concise Wired piece about where the music biz is heading. It ain't pretty.
Twiggy: The Queen of Mod - beautifully designed showcase of Twiggy and her mod, mod world. The only thing missing is a soundtrack of Pizzicato Five's "Twiggy Twiggy".
Wednesday, January 22, 2003
Yeah, the world doesn't need another '100 Greatest Music Videos' list, but this one is especially articulate and well chosen. From the intro: "While MTV and VH1's own lists often seem to cater to populist opinion and favor controversy over artistry, Slant Magazine has sorted through the vaults (and we're not kidding when we say that) and compiled a list based on what we think will survive the networks' own expiration dates." (via I Love Everything)
In a related note, a lifetime music video mystery has been solved due to my vigilant watching of VH1 Classic. In Belinda Carlisle's video for "Mad About You" (unfortunately missing from Slant magazine's list), there's a scene where Belinda looks dreamily at an album cover, then dances around her house. Back in the '80s I could never identify that LP since it flashes by so quickly, but careful viewing as an adult reveals that it's Yma Sumac's Mambo! that Belinda's grooving to. Yep, she's a hipster!!
Lou Rawls gets funky over detergent (large mp3). Via Sharpeworld.
Tuesday, January 21, 2003
Outstandingly detailed miniature model of a 1960s boy's bedroom (via boing boing). The same site also has a very pink '50s home and a cluttered '70s sorority house. Groovy.
"Hi! The seven eggs of I Love Egg are not normal ones. They express feelings through seven cute expressions. In addition, these seven eggs are so fashionable that they like to wear pretty clothes." Those Japanese can find cuteness in everything. I understand that Hello Kitty's lawyers are on the phone right now with a cease-and-desist order. (via cheesedip.com)
Monday, January 20, 2003
Al Hirschfeld 1903-2003. He was a huge influences on my own illustration, and I will miss him.
Sunday, January 19, 2003
My evening of fun with RealAudio, after a hearty meal of pasta and elk (mmmm, elk) - this page of radio personality outtakes has the rather well-known tape of Casey Kasem going ballistic over an 'American Top 40' long-distance dedication. Also check out "Stairway to Gilligan's Island" - Led Zeppelin meets the castaways!
Friday, January 17, 2003
An example of what comes of expired copyrights (damn you, Supreme Court!) - beautiful nineteenth century ladies dress shoes from the New York Public Library's Image Gate [via Portage].
Between May and December 2002, we transformed our old backyard garage from shack to chic. Christopher took photos during the whole process and made this page documenting it. Great job!
Thursday, January 16, 2003
The New York Times did a nice article on the wonders of 'Black & White Overnight', the Game Show Network's graveyard shift programme of vintage '50s-'60s quiz shows. This has quickly became a favorite of mine since getting the TiVo, giving me the warm fuzzies for a time which I never experienced firsthand. The shows ('What's My Line', 'I've Got a Secret', and 'To Tell the Truth') conjure up a swanky, Manhattanish world of cigarettes and martinis, intermissions and urbane small talk. Concepts were simple, sets were utalitarian, and personality was everything. Being smart and well-rounded was a given among all participants, something nearly unheard-of nowadays. For example, the effortlessly witty Bennett Cerf of 'What's My Line?' was the head of Random House -- can you imagine a publisher being on today's game shows? I could go on and on, but instead I'll point to Evan Izer's wonderful weblog entry on the same subject from last year. Arlene Francis must be smiling down on him.
Wednesday, January 15, 2003
The LA Weekly had its special comics issue out last week. Good articles on the legacy of romance comics - of the "I don't care, I'd rather sink than call Brad for help!" sort - and Harvey Kurtzman's Two-Fisted Tales.
Also recommend, for entirely different reasons: this gratifyingly bitchy article on 'The IT Factor'.
The Work of Charles and Ray Eames: A Legacy of Invention - this museum exhibit has been around for awhile, but I never knew it had a terrific accompanying website until Coudal recently pointed it out. Rarely seen images aplenty, like this super-cool Aluminum Group advertisement.
Tuesday, January 14, 2003
The new installment of Professor Barnhardt's Journal is here. The theme is 'Words of Wisdom,' with lots of funny and useful advice. My own contribution is okay -- but first read the ones written by other, more talented people, allright?
Nothing like a spirited discussion on the "my SUV helps fund terrorists" ads to jumpstart your morning. While I'm as anti-SUV as anyone, I'm inclined to agree with this Slate column on the matter. Meanwhile, Hollywood celebs say "your SUV helps fund terrorists (excuse me while I wheel my two-ton Escalade on over to the massage therapist)".
Monday, January 13, 2003
Diversions that diverted me today: family snapshots of a 1968 vacation in Disneyland (via Pop Culture Junk Mail); a short but sweet Matt Groening interview (via Cartoon Research).
Sunday, January 12, 2003
Somebody on the Exotica mailing list dug up this page of cheapie '50s album covers modeled by a young Mary Tyler Moore. She was quite the hot tomato back then. More here.
Saturday, January 11, 2003
Christopher has a new page showing nothing but photos of animals sticking their heads in bags of food. Right now we just have our cat Eames and the dearly departed bunny Oolong. If you have a photo for the page, contact Christopher at the email on the page.
Friday, January 10, 2003
DVD Savant has a nifty review of the forthcoming 'Mildred Pierce' disc containing some interesting tidbits (footnote #7 is priceless) and plot spoilers. Rock on, Mildred. I was hoping that TCM's great documentary Joan Crawford: The Ultimate Movie Star would be included as a DVD bonus – and it is. Whoopie!
Vintage visuals aplenty: First up is Strange Sisters, an archive of campy lesbian pulp fiction covers [via Uren Dagen Nachten]. Also check out the American Widescreen Museum, an eye-popping site of old widescreen and color cinema photography arcana [via Sharpeworld, who never ceases to amaze me].
Thursday, January 09, 2003
20 Influential Songs
In My Life - Janet from Snarkcake did this nearly a month ago.
It's excellent. In fact, it inspired me to come up with some of my own
influential songs. The following are not necessarily my favorites, just music that conjures
up a specific place and time for me. In chronological
"How Sweet It Is to Be Loved by You" by James Taylor - My earliest radio
memory: me, my mom and my two brothers are going somewhere in mom's old
Chevy Nova hatchback. We were driving through Papago Park in Scottsdale - a
beautiful desert mountain range - and this song came on. Something about
the mountains and the part where Taylor sings "stop" and the entire song
stops stuck in my six year old mind and stayed there.
"Turn to Stone" by the Electric Light Orchestra - The first non-kiddie 45
I owned, a harbinger of my liking for dramatic, grandiose things. My mom probably bought it for me from the local record store, the one that was in a
strip mall with the TG&Y and the Pop Shoppe.
"Everlasting Love" by Andy Gibb and "Big Balls" by AC/DC - Two songs in
heavy rotation on the family stereo circa 1980. "Everlasting Love" was the
opening track on a treasured K-Tel record which also had "Boogie Oogie
Oogie" and "Hot Child in the City" - and I played it endlessly. "Big
Balls" was a favorite of my metal lovin' older brother's. It was annoying
at first, then later I would catch myself singing along.
"Legal Tender" by The B-52s - Immediately brings to mind the endless pep rallies at my high school. This was the second-most frequently used backing music for the McClintock High pom squad circa 1984, the first being Billy Idol's craptastic "Mony Mony". How did I make it out of there alive?
"People Are People" by Depeche Mode - Depeche Mode was the group that
separated the cool kids from the ordinary kids in school. Ironically, I
didn't like this one very much compared to their other stuff - too clangy
and unsubtle. The first song I remember that became uncool once it
"Things Can Only Get Better" by Howard Jones - The Arizona State Fair,
October 1985: me and my best friend are at the Howard Jones concert, my
first ever. Howard leaves the stage with a coliseum packed full of people
clamoring for more. It is then that the audience does a bizarro mass
singalong of the "whoa whoa whoaaa" chorus from "Things Can Only Get
Better". Once he came back onstage, guess what he played?
"Reflections" by Diana Ross and the Supremes - As a teenager I was privately
obsessed with this song. The Supremes and the rarified, glamorously
bewigged world they represented was a universe away from the soulless
suburban hell I was living in. The weird moog blips on this tune made them
sound like a trio of pissed off celestial deities.
"Top of the World" by Shonen Knife - Back in 1994, I was working in Mesa
wondering how I ended up in friggin' Mesa laying out crappy ads for car
washes and oak furniture dealers. To liven the mood in the office I would
play CDs from my eclectic collection, damn my co-workers . Playing this
song from the Carpenters tribute album brought the usual funny looks. By
song's end, however, I was the coolest person on earth. Now it can be said
that, yes, I helped make some Mesa residents hip to Shonen Knife.
"Mamma Mia" by ABBA - I first heard "Mamma Mia" while seeing The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of
the Desert in a packed theater with a very appreciative (and very gay)
audience. I was still going through some heavy "coming out" issues at the time -
and the act of experiencing that movie in that way was like a huge weight had been
lifted off my shoulders. I have ABBA to partially thank for that.
"Hidden Place" by Bjork - On Sept. 11, I arrived at work with a heavy heart.
Everyone there was glued to the news, crying or distressed. To escape the
gloom, I put this song on the headphones. Didn't work - as a matter of fact
I still can't listen to it without thinking of that awful day.
"Ask" by The Smiths - An ordinary evening last year, I was listening to the satellite
radio's '80s channel and this song came on. And I did an impromptu dance,
right there in the living room while Eames was sleeping and Christopher was
on the computer in the other room. A happy little dance to domestic bliss.
Wednesday, January 08, 2003
The Advertising Artwork of Dr. Seuss - lo and well, with green eggs and ham it's swell (via Dublog).
Tuesday, January 07, 2003
Braniff International - nicely designed tribute to the grooviest airline that ever was. (Thanks Christopher!)
Tim O. Tompson caps his analysis of Entertainment Weekly's annual "people who died" issue with an in-depth power point presentation. All of your dead celebrities from 2002 needs are right there.
Sally Visits the Easy Bake Oven Factory, a too-cute ad from yesterday's Oddball Comic of the Day. Contemporary Styling! Timing Guide Dial! Purely Ornamental Stovetop!
Monday, January 06, 2003
Newstream is sort of a clearinghouse of company press releases for media professionals. Sometimes I'll dig around there for stories that aren't adequately covered in the mainstream press, stories that blur the line between news and advertising and consequently have a vaguely strange air about them. Pray tell, where else could you find out about the contest seeking the perfect song about duct tape? The winner, by the way, is a rockin' punk ditty called "I Never Get Stuck". An mp3 can be downloaded - but only for registered users, drat.
I was jazzed about this story, which reveals that the Muzak company recently completed doing custom atmospheric music for the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando. My mind was swimming as to what such an endeavor might sound like - Moby? Synth-lite arrangements of Guns 'N Roses hits? Or perhaps something retro cool and Bacharach-like? Then I read the story and was disappointed to find it just furnished plain old pop/rock music to the hotel, not Muzak. Darn. (artwork above is from The Vitaphone Project)
Sunday, January 05, 2003
Design Within Reach? (via Fimoculous) is Slate magazine's cheeky photo essay on Target's embrace of celeb designers. Michael Graves' pukey, self- conciously "cute" housewares emerge relatively unscathed, but it's Philippe Starck who gets the most scathing comments.
Friday, January 03, 2003
Otis Fodder is undertaking an ambitious project with 365 Days - a new mp3 every day in 2003. The three up already are suitably bizarre selections of the outsider/"incredibly strange music" type. Don't miss the indescribable cover version of "Major Tom" - neato!!
TV tip: PBS will be showing a new documentary on Lance Loud this Monday, along with a vintage installment of the groundbreaking 'reality' program that made him famous, An American Family. AAF is one of those shows that I've always read about but never saw, so this should be quite interesting. Thanks to Gael for the heads up.
Thursday, January 02, 2003
Top Ten Shameful Games - further proof that the words "Atari" and "erotica" don't mix. (via Kottke)
If you care -- my film diary for 2002 is now up, a voyeuristic look at what movies we saw last year (basically lots of foreign films and silents). Speaking of movies - watching the wretchedly compelling VH1 series I Love the 80s yesterday, it struck me how many blockbuster movies of the Reagan Era completely passed me by. They held zero interest in me, then and now. My epitath will probably read: "He never liked iced tea or saw the Back to the Future trilogy."