Thursday, May 29, 2003
Fascinating Wall Street Journal article on Ronald McDonald's tightly controlled public image, complete with stippled portrait. A window into the creepy world of corporations that think of their mascots as real beings: "'Ronald doesn't go out to work,' says Amy Murray, a director in U.S. marketing. 'He goes out to have fun.'" (via TMF,TML)
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Todd Dominey's weblog post about music, nostalgia and changing formats touched a nerve. I've been thinking about the same stuff lately, as I chuck the jewel boxes on most of my old cds and file them into a book, bringing a little cohesion to what was once randomly hidden inside blue Rubbermaid bins. Touching discs I haven't heard in ten years brought back memories of how I'd bring one home, carefully listen to each track, study the booklet design, pore over the credits, and read along with the song lyrics. Not all of them were great, but the investment of time and money elevated their importance.
Things subtly changed during the short time I was a music critic. The stint had its perks (free music, yay!), but I'd go through cds like kernels of popcorn. Music was there to be analyzed, and on deadline to boot. Any enjoyment was just a side effect.
Which brings me to today. Even though I love the convenience of mp3s, and the euphoria of coming across something unexpected in that format, the passion has eroded somewhat. Where the old method of listening to music was like savoring a fine meal, mp3 consumption is more like scarfing down junk food. I download something, keep it in the library for further reference, then it's on to the next fix. I was a listener, now I'm a consumer. Whatever their merits, it's hard to imagine anyone getting misty-eyed over an old mp3.
A collection of Polish circus posters shows off that country's talent for design cleverness (via Fiendish Is The Word). Also, in the oft-linked Art or Crap Quiz I'm proud to say I only got two wrong. Eat my Duchamp, suckas.
Pixar's in-jokes (L.A. Times) includes a reference to the infamous "naked lady in the window" sight gag from The Rescuers.
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
Must-read: Frank Rich's latest NYT editorial (via News From Me) uses Time-Warner's marketing of Matrix Reloaded to explore the grave implications of more big media consolidation. This made up for the lukewarm experience of finally finishing Mr. Rich's Ghost Light, his memoir of a theatergoing childhood. Yawnsville, baby. Skip the book, read the editorial.
Monday, May 26, 2003
Taste Tribes - excellent Mindjack.com article on the influence of taste tribes (people who share certain likes and dislikes in media choices) and how weblogs are affecting them. I did the accompanying illustration.
I'm also digging the Sears Catalog from 1971 - the ultimate convergence of hideous colors and man-made polyfibers. Breathe in the Dacron and enjoy.
Sunday, May 25, 2003
Another Eurovision has passed and the latest winner is ... Turkey! I always feel deprived missing out on the full Eurovision experience. The U.S. government should institute some kind of Cheesy Cultural Phenomena exchange program, to promote worldwide goodwill. Let's start off by trading your Eurovision for our Nascar.
Meanwhile, I'm off to observe the very American Memorial Day holiday.
Thursday, May 22, 2003
Ink drawings and collages of a Japanese artist (or several artists?) -delicate, somewhat Picassoesque. I like.
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
Ebay: Really Horrible Mom and Baby Cat Lamp Yikes. I'm inclined to agree. (thx, Christopher!)
Doris Day pictured on a Dutch gum card (found via J-Walk). For some reason, I associate Doris Day with talking on the telephone. Preferably a Princess model with rotary dial. When I see an image of her smiling on the phone, I imagine myself on the other end. Doris' appeal was utterly generic - yet strangely intimate - in that way.
Other stuff: An exhibit on photographer Elliott Erwitt, with samples. Nice! If Simpsons characters mated -borderline frightening results (via Cup of Chicha).
I was pointed to Lucky Disc by one of its founders. They sell uniquely designed CD-Rs and digipacks, done in limited editions. Neat idea.
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
Added a page with my modest DVD collection to the sidebar at right. It's okay, heavy on the Disney. My family thinks I'm a Disney fanatic. I'm not a Disney fanatic.
I'm of the mindset that Disney could do no wrong before 1946, went on to become wildly "hit and miss" over the next fifty years, then produced nothing but crap for the last decade. Part of my Disney ills come from how, as the Onion said, they "throw around the word 'classic' like so much confetti". Theirs is a marketing strategy that places Pinocchio and Mulan at the same level. That is so screwed.
Anyway, most of my Disney DVDs were gifts. Honest.
Interesting Flak magazine article on Television Without Pity - the first negative thing I've ever read about TWOP.
Monday, May 19, 2003
The gayness of X-Men 2. OK, now I want to see it.
The newest NYT magazine has an article on Phoenix architecture. It mentions Will Bruder's Phoenix Public Library, which we love, and other structures. One thing missing, however, is a mention of the great mid-century architecture here. The uptown area has a lot of nifty little office buildings and apartment complexes from the '60s, kinda like a mini Palm Springs. I ought to take pictures of them before they're gone.
Hating hack critic, blurb whore Earl Dittman (via ToT). Related: Leonard Maltin weighs in on blurb-happy marketing at the movie studios.
Sunday, May 18, 2003
My First 10 Downloads At The Apple Music Store
1. "Too Much Heaven" - The Bee Gees (1979). Guilty pleasure. Those creamy three-part harmonies are so kitchy-coo seventies it just makes me melt. Undoubtedly there are more than a few 23-year-olds walking around who are completely unaware that they were conceived to this song.
2. "Bonjour, Paris!" - Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn and Kay Thompson (1957). I was hoping for Kay's fabulous "Think Pink", but astonishingly it's not on the Funny Face CD. This was an excellent second choice, one that I'm well on my way to memorizing. "I want to see the den of thinking men, like Jean-Paul Sartre ..."
3. "In the Garage" - Weezer (1994). They linked to scrubbles on their links page, so now I owe them. This one's my favorite. Weezer at their geeky best - twelve-sided die, Kiss posters and all.
4. "Peg" - Steely Dan (1977). Steely Dan was the pinnacle of seventies studio songcraft. "Peg" is one of their funkiest, and of course the sound quality is perfect. Do anybody remember how, in the early years of Entertainment Tonight, "Peg" was one of two songs played under the daily segment of flashing paparazzi photos (the other one was "If They Could See Me Now" by Stephanie Mills (see #6))?
5. "Bang-A-Boomerang" - ABBA (1975). Fun with onomatopeia! I was completely charmed by this video on their DVD. So why wasn't it on their box set? "Bang-A-Boomerang" is a title that only ABBA could come up with: it doesn't mean anything, but sounds fun to sing, so what the hell.
6. "Never Knew Love Like This Before" - Stephanie Mills (1980). Ms. Mills sings the title phrase so beguilingly, you're share her ecstasy. Producer Reggie Lucas surrounds her with a dreamy, mirror-ball ambiance that lies halfway between disco and uptown soul. So wonderful you have to ponder why this song is stuck in Adult Contemporary Hell.
7. "Christine's Tune (a.k.a. Devil in Disguise)" - The Flying Burrito Brothers (1969). Never heard anything by them, so this one got a download. That fuzz guitar solo is the coolest.
8. "First I Look at the Purse" - The Contours (1965). Funny, politically incorrect finger-popper about a guy who'd date the ugliest chick in town if she's loaded. How interesting that it was written/produced by Mr. "Ooh Baby Baby" himself, Smokey Robinson. The Motown backing band is tight here, real tight.
9. "Is That All There Is?" - Peggy Lee (1968). I remember first hearing this in the movie After Hours, and being weirded out by it. Perhaps weirdest of all is how it became a hit, one of Peggy's biggest, and not some obscure little curio treasured by odd pop fans. Always wanted a copy, never had one - until now.
10. "The Things We Do for Love" - 10CC (1977). Another nostalgic pick. One of the few songs a third grader could sing along with, I should know.
Friday, May 16, 2003
And now I'm finished with an especially grueling work week. One of my fellow designers abruptly quit, leaving the rest of us picking up the pieces. If anyone out there is contemplating leaving their job, please don't just up and go. That's rude.
Jeff Brows is a photographer who specializes in middle American detritus. His subjects are easily overlooked things like partially painted pickups, self-storage units, '50s tract homes, and eerily empty carnivals. Here's a tiny sampling from the book Readymade: American Roadside Artifacts.
Wednesday, May 14, 2003
It's Cute Day at Scrubbles. Let's start off with the clever and colorful QuickTime music video for "Move Your Feet" by Junior Senior. Cute!
"Welcome to GIANTmicrobes! We make stuffed animals that look like tiny microbes—only a million times actual size! Now available: The Common Cold, The Flu, Sore Throat, and Stomach Ache." Cute! (via Cup of Chicha)
You can always depend on Yahoo's most popular photos for at least one cute animal pic. Like this one. It's a tiger! With piglets! Cute!!
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
Sea birds, from the British Library's Images Online (via Portage). More about the stolen Cellini salt cellar. Too busy to think about posting anything else.
Monday, May 12, 2003
Look at this. You might dismiss it as trash, but I see it as the start of a burgeoning market in "quasi-celebrities with farming equipment" collectibles. Think of the possibilities. Say, Dr. Phil reflecting on a tiller, or Martha Stewart contemplating an egg sorter. The sky's the limit.
Is anybody planning to watch Three's Company: Behind the Buns (or whatever it's called) on NBC tonight? I was going to tune in out of curiosity, but since it's getting decent reviews the whole thing may get watched. Looks intriguing.
Something else to look out for: TCM's "Complicated Women" film fest continues tomorrow night with Baby Face (1933) - possibly the sleaziest Pre-Code movie ever made.
Sunday, May 11, 2003
Every Sunday morning, we go out in the back yard and do yard work, feed the birds, watch the cat and such. Then I read something on the porch with some coffee. Today I read a New Yorker article on James Whistler. Which was very illuminating, since all I knew beforehand about Whistler was this.
Friday, May 09, 2003
I was delighted to come across The World of Mary Blair, a simple but lovely site put together by the Blair estate. The gallery includes the artistry of Mary's husband Lee and brother-in-law Preston as well. Neat stuff.
Thursday, May 08, 2003
I normally don't get excited about tv commercials, but this one's an eye-popper.
Local News: Tabloid Photographs from the Los Angeles Herald Express (1936-1961). Tawdry and fascinating news photos/captions from stories both lurid and commonplace. Something like Weegee in La-La-Land. Via Sharpeworld by way of Ookworld I.O.
This Space Invader tile mosaic kit looks pretty cool (it was spotted at the Wooster Collective). What I really loved is the four photos showing the mosaics in public spaces, looking like they fit right into the cityscape.
Sunday, May 04, 2003
Well, I hate to say it, but I'm stuck on another huge project at work. So we're taking a little break here. Posting will resume this Thursday at the earliest. Have a nice week. (photo is from Room 606: The SAS House and the Work of Arne Jacobsen)
Friday, May 02, 2003
Engagement photo confusion - "We tried to determine whether it was a joke photo, or if this couple had a mutual attraction based on poor eyesight." (thx, Eric!)
Thursday, May 01, 2003
Retromedia, where have you been all my life? "An online broadcasting museum and showcase for lost TV artifacts of the 60s, 70s and 80s." Corny, but cool. (via thingsmagazine.net)
X-Entertainment looks back at a 1986 Toys 'R' Us newspaper supplement: "My Buddy was another story - he's not around anymore, but ol' MB definitely left his mark. Chucky, from the Child's Play movies, was actually based on this toy. It was basically a big regular doll who served as a friendless kid's friend, racking up loads of sales sheerly by word-of-mouth and the power of a commercial jingle so entrancing that I still sing it in the shower. That's probably why everyone thinks I'm jerking off in there."
The weblogs are abuzz with the iTunes music store. I gave it a try last night, and so far I'm generally satisfied with the service. It's fair, it's legal, it's beautiful to look at, and it makes me happy to be an Apple customer. You have to admire the simplicity of the pricing structure: a buck a song, ten bucks an album (for the most part). I'd pay .99 for certain songs that I like, but wouldn't buy an entire cd to get. It *is* somewhat bizarre that they charge the same amount for, say, a brand new Missy Elliot remix and a 40-year-old Keely Smith song. I wish they halved the price for the older, less popular stuff. They'd make a killing that way. But whatever. I'm hooked. With eMusic covering obscure/indie music and Apple handling the majors, the iPod is all set. My first ten downloads will get their own post soon.
Some related links: the Wall Street Journal's review, the elephantine Slashdot thread, and a technical discussion on Macintouch.