Monday, June 30, 2003
Christopher alerted me to a segment on music mash-ups on the NPR program Here and Now - scroll down on this page to hear it. The host and reporter are alternately bemused, condescending, and clueless, but I enjoyed hearing the side-by-side examples.
We here at scrubbles are saddened by the passing of Katharine Hepburn, but also puzzled at the coverage of her life and career. The media tends to focus on Miss Hepburn's "great lady" phase, roughly between Suddenly Last Summer and On Golden Pond. Nice, but boring.
To me, the most fascinating segment of Hepburn's film career was her earliest, during her 1932-38 tenure at RKO studios. It's hard to convey how excitingly different Hepburn was when she started in the movies. In the early '30s, the accepted images for women on screen were either the curvy sexpot (like Clara Bow or Jean Harlow) or the impossibly elegant ice queen (like Constance Bennett or Kay Francis). Into that arena comes this angular, assertive, tomboyish woman with a relaxed air about her, earthy and real. You can see it vividly in her very earliest films, despite their sometimes iffy scripts. Not until later in the '30s did she acquire that New England fluttery-ness that became her acting trademark. The L.A. Times' appreciation covers this groundbreaking period very nicely. Also check out this page on the early Kate movies.
Sunday, June 29, 2003
Coolest thing we got at the Safeway today - Method dish soap, mandarin scent. It's housed in a sexy bottle that resembles the imagined offspring of a fruit-flavored iMac and a lava lamp. No surprisingly, they're the creation of industrial design superstar Karim Rashid. Rashid's site has a nice picture of the four different varieties.
A collection of Chinese acrobat postcards from snarky malarkey. Beautifully phony photography.
The Illustrated Catalog of ACME Products obsessively inventories (on one huge, slow loading page) every ACME product from the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons. Somebody had to do it. It was inevitable. Awesome.
Saturday, June 28, 2003
Matty's Dream Jukebox just got an update. I can't believe it's been nearly two years since I did that thing. Some of the selections have changed, but the concept is the same - my 200 fave songs from the years 1960-1999, fifty from each decade, no single artist repeated.
Thursday, June 26, 2003
Diverting things that diverted me from deadlines and sinus headaches today: Beautiful Hiroshige fish prints. Subversive Cross Stitch. Outing Abe in the Village Voice. A page about SCTV including Who's Who In Melonville (thanks, Max!). What a brilliant show that was. Tex and Edna Boil, those stiff-as-a-board organ shop proprietors, ruled.
Recollections of '80s Movies Filmed In Arizona, Or Six Degrees From Hollywood:
Just One of the Guys (1985) - This was about a girl who disguises herself as a male high school student because ... she was doing undercover work? I dunno. I do remember this was filmed at a ritzy school across town, and a girl in my Freshman math class actually had a small speaking role, as a student who rejects the main guy when he asks her to the prom. So, for a while there I knew a girl who worked with a guy who worked with a girl who was dating Bruce Springsteen.
American Anthem (1986) -
For several weeks of over my high school's morning PA announcements, the Principal said something called 'American Anthem' was filming in the auditorium of a rival school. Anyone who showed up was allowed in to watch and be an extra. I didn't know of anyone who took the bait. Since the resulting movie (a vehicle for hunky Olympic gymnast Mitch Gaylord) wound up being such a huge flop, nobody would've admitted being a part of it anyway.
Can't Buy Me Love (1987)
- I caught this on late night cable once. Everything about the settings (the house in the desert, the mall, the high school) looked strangely familiar, and yet unfamiliar -- because, as it happened, it was filmed in Tucson. Phoenix and Tucson are like visual twins, indistinct and yet subtly different.
U2: Rattle and Hum (1988) An event - U2 was coming to our stadium in Tempe to film a movie! Filmed over two nights in December of '87, I attended the first night's concert (as it turned out, most of the final film was taken from the second night). The three things I recall were 1. It really was a filmed concert, no obtrusive cameras or long breaks between sets; 2. You could feel the excitement in the crowd, like it was electrified; 3. During the entire concert, two drunk guys in front of me were screaming along with every lyric. They had a blast.
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989) This one was filmed all over Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe - but strangely enough I never heard anything of it until after the movie came out. The mall scenes were done at Metrocenter back when it still had a groovy, vaguely Logan's Run-ish look and the bowling alley was close to my house.
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
Forgotten ephemera of the past at The Emergence of Advertising in America 1850-1920. Via James Luckett of Consumptive, who also wrote a dandy weblog entry on the site's early Kodak ads.
Two articles caught my eye today. First up is this fascinating L.A. Times article on the covert exploration of abandoned old buildings (thx, C!). Then there's Notes on the Dumb-Buddy Film by Richard Goldstein -- possibly the only review of Dumb and Dumberer to name-drop Albert Camus.
Monday, June 23, 2003
Ben Wener from the Orange County Register comments on VH1's latest pointless list, then (here's the fun part) invites you the reader to vote - on the worst songs in the last 25 years. P.S. Unlike Mr. Werner, I really dig "Tarzan Boy".
Sunday, June 22, 2003
Yesterday we went to an antique store and found something from my childhood - a set of Childcraft books. I don't have fond memories of those things - they were old, smelly and housed in these ugly orange and grey bindings. The only thing I liked were the illustrated fairy tales and poems in the first two volumes. One drawing that stood out was an early illustration by John Gee, creator of the Timbertoes comic from "Highlights for Children" magazine. I always loved the Timbertoes - not necessarily for the story lines (which were actually kind of moronic), but for Mr. Gee's whimsical drawing style. Very '30s geometric. And clean. Now that I think of it, the Timbertoes must be a huge influence on Rolie Polie Olie. Since sometime in the eighties, the Timbertoes has been drawn by a different, inferior artist. Sadly, the style and panache of Mr. Gee's drawings is gone.
I wish I knew more about John Gee, but there isn't much on him or even the Timbertoes on the web. This page has a photo tour of the Highlights headquarters - check out that super-cool wooden Timbertoes model.
Barbie makeovers, with an accent on the macabre (via Metafilter and others). My favorite: Neo-Nazi Barbie.
Good Frank Rich editorial on the mainstreaming of gays and lesbians in America. In a burst of Mark Shaiman-like impetuousness, I wanna say that today Christopher and myself are celebrating our 103rd month together. I love you, bunny pie (smooch)!
A query for Moveable Type users: it's been installed on my server OK - but none of my images are showing up. I've trolled the support forums and tried every variation - nothing. Can anybody help me? (yes, I'm in the process of switching scrubbles over to MT)
Thursday, June 19, 2003
The AOL disc to end all AOL discs. This one is special. Whenever it spins around in your computer, Edward Hopper spins around in his grave!
Guitar chords for the '80s Juicy Fruit jingle ("the taste is gonna gonna gonna move ya"). In case you wanted to know. (thanks, Tim!)
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
Nudie's online fashion museum - nice little tour through the legendary country couturier (via the honky-tonkified GMTPlus9). Regrettably it doesn't include Gram Parson's jacket embroidered with hemp leaves. But don't worry, I found a photo here.
Cabinets of Curiosity - Metropolis magazine looks at the cluttered desktop of four different designers. Neat stuff.
Simon Dumenico on Jayson Blair. I used to enjoy Mr. Dumenico's entertainingly bitchy inside.com column on the magazine business (remember inside.com?). Glad to see he's still working.
We're continuing the "I'm pissed off because things have gotten so crappy" theme from yesterday. This great Armond White piece uses Jennifer Lopez's "I'm Glad" video (which faithfully recreates scenes from Flashdance) as an opportunity to rail against modern movies, popular tastes and usage of the adjective "hot." Apparently when an inexplicably famous actress-singer uses a boring but strangely enduring movie from 20 years ago as visual fodder for a music video, it's a sure sign of the apocalypse. (via GreenCine Daily).
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
Made my day: an L.A. Times editorial (spotted via TV Tattle) on the fall of the American Film Institute with their silly TV specials, corporate sucking-up, and contributions to the general dumbification of vintage cinema appreciation. This took me back to all the controversy when the AFI made that horrible 100 Best American Films list in 1998. In response, Jonathan Rosenbaum's memorable rant and alternate list was a screed so gratifyingly good I printed it out and kept it in my files.
Design inspiration: Charles S. Anderson in Minneapolis. They're fantastic. I'm in awe.
Monday, June 16, 2003
A postcard of central Phoenix's Christown Mall in the '60s. This was the mall back then, and as you can see the decor was very middle class swanky (yes, those are George Nelson bubble lamps above the stairway). Like every mall, its had some ups and downs over the years. When I started going there a decade ago, the place was a little forlorn but still doing okay with a JC Penney, Montgomery Ward and Wal Mart. The luxurious Dillards had turned into a not so luxurious Dillards closeout warehouse, filled with racks upon racks of sweaters. Smaller shops had a dreary desperation about them but there were a few gems, like the independent bookseller and the rainforest-themed gift shop. Then it got worse. Two years ago, with the Penneys since replaced by a soul-sucking Costco and the Wards becoming a deserted hulk, the mall was given the sounds-like-a-Christian-rock-group name of Spectrum and the interior underwent a minor facelift. It's now dominated by small, scantily stocked tchotchke vendors with a distinct white trash sensibility - like the shop that (I'm trying hard not to gag as I write this) turns your children's photos into a sofa sized fresco of angels sitting on a cloud.
We don't shop there anymore.
Pitchfork special: So Much For The Afterglow: The 20 Worst Post-Breakup Debacles. Number one isn't much of a surprise. This reminds me of Phoenix's premiere alternative radio station circa 1989-94, KQ 1060AM - where Big Audio Dynamite got more airplay than the Clash.
Sunday, June 15, 2003
The Fantastic In Art and Fiction, neat imagery from the Cornell University Library collection. Via The Solipsistic Gazette.
Friday, June 13, 2003
TV Cream - lots of nostalgic twiddling on obscure vintage UK shows the likes of which us Yanks have never, ever seen. Nice theme page, too. (via Robot Action Boy)
Interesting NY Observer article on how the iTunes Music Store's thirty second song previews perfectly fulfill a need for instant musical gratification. The reporter obviously doesn't have the problem I have with those previews, where you have to sit through an eternity of buffering time to get the damn thing. Counter. Productive. (via TMFTML, on fire with hot steamy good links this week)
Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Christopher and I were watching old episodes of The Lucy Show on DVD last weekend. Usually when I think of TV shows on DVD, I envision lavishly packaged recent shows, digitally preserved in pristine condition. Not so here, alas. These episodes were horrible looking - washed out, grainy, blurry. Yecch. Lucy plays Lucy Charmichael, a lovelorn but wacky bank secretary. Most of the plots involved Lucy conniving with her boss to fraternize with a famous customer. She was over 50 at the time, but the characters around Lucy behave as if she were a pretty little thing in her twenties - "Where will we find a young lady to act in the variety show with George Burns?" There were some good jokes, but most of the entertainment value for us came from wondering where a lowly secretary can get such a fabulous wardrobe - one that matches the sets, even! My favorite was an ensemble where the floral print on the dress matched the liner in the accompanying jacket - a peculiar fashion trend of the time that Down With Love recently paid homage to.
I also just saw Blue Velvet for the first time. An entirely different thing altogether - although Lucy's all-orange office and Isabella Rosselini's all-mauve apartment do share a certain shiver-inducing weirdness.
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
Basic Hip's Digital Oddio is back after a short hiatus. Yay! His album of the week is the groovy On Any Sunday soundtrack. Track #4 is ba-ba-riffic.
Often linked, still funny: Gizmodo's 1983 gadget reviews.
Hypnosis In Media - examples from ads, comics, TV, movies and more. Clunky looking, but authoritative.
Monday, June 09, 2003
Summer is a good time for articles on how awful the cable TV networks can get. Like this one: "Just filling time is a challenge for a lot of these channels, though they like to pass off the number of reruns they present as a boon to viewers, enabling them to catch favorite shows at various times they might find convenient. What it really means is there are eight 'Golden Girls' reruns every weekday on Lifetime and 26 'Boy Meets World' reruns every week on the Disney Channel." Hoo boy.
On the flip side, there's this L.A. Times story about a high school teacher who uses old '50s sitcoms as an educational tool (both links via TV Tattle).
Every so often I read something and think "my sentiments exactly". Like these thoughts on the musical and film versions of Hairspray. This one was written by Bill Sherman of Pop Culture Gadabout. Also: The Twilight of Packaging, an eloquent little Pitchfork essay that comes via I Love Everything.
Sunday, June 08, 2003
Super huge Bollywood and Lollywood poster gallery (via Coudal Partners). The linked page takes a long time to load even on a fast connection - and it's just one of several!
Best-ever Simpsons pop culture reference: Lisa waking up with a pony in her bed in Lisa's Pony.
Picture this. You're an executive in the '60s. Profits are dipping, you need something to perk up the sales staff at the upcoming convention. What to do? Put on a musical! The History of the Industrial Musical details this strange (now extinct) artifact.
Friday, June 06, 2003
The 1973 docuconcert WattStax, often called the black Woodstock, is being re-released in a restored print this summer. Check out the trailer. Funky. This comes courtesy of GreenCine Daily, a fantastic movie news weblog I found via Ian. Thanks Ian!
It's Friday, and I need something pretty to look at. The Easy on the Eye album cover art gallery will do just fine. It focuses on UK vinyl, including a comprehensive look at the ultra-cheezy Top of the Pops series.
In another instance of "cable channel compiles meaningless list for ratings", CMT picked the top 100 country songs. I could do without the newer stuff (Faith Hill - puke), but their pre-1980 selections would make for a kickass compilation.
Thursday, June 05, 2003
TV tip: Turner Classic Movies' Bollywood film fest starts tonight. I'm recording Amar Akbar Anthony; will watch as soon as I have three hours to spare.
Wednesday, June 04, 2003
Neat-o teaser trailer for Pixar's The Incredibles, about a family of super heroes. The background music is John Barry's "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" - nice touch. Via Cartoon Research, who also has some tantalizing news about the restoration of some classic Warner Bros. cartoons (see 2nd item in the Comments section).
Next time you think America is headed for a certain kind of smugly Republican, whiz-bang packaged, attention-deprived focus-group-approved hell --- Mark Morford says: "Focus on the positive." Words to live by.
365 Days selection: "Nobody Taught Me" by Barbie and Ken, a surprisingly elegant single from 1961. From the site: "What's amazing about this is all the care and expense that went into the making of - what was considered then - an ephemeral children's record. An arrangement worthy of Nelson Riddle, a full-sized orchestra, excellent singers. This is a true classic!"
Tuesday, June 03, 2003
Emptybowl.com reviews the limited edition Hulk cereal. They hated it (via Snarkcake).
Now this is something I can't wait to catch: Hell's Highway: The True Story of American Highway Safety Films , a documentary that opens later this month. Back in high school, the queasy highlight of Drivers Ed was seeing a scratchy old black and white movie of gory car crash scenes. For lack of a better word, it left an impact on me.
Monday, June 02, 2003
A lovely gallery of expressionistic album cover portraits. Wish I knew who the artists were - I love that "brushy" style of '50s/'60s illustration. While looking for these, I came across this fascinating history of Capitol records picture sleeves and their minute variations. Who knew.
Droll offering from The Morning News - I Live in a Motel.
Sunday, June 01, 2003
Things we did last weekend: Bought clothing at Mervyn's, set off alarm. Tried to help a heat-stricken dog hiding under a truck (she was reunited with her owners soon thereafter). Ate hamburgers twice. Played Scrabble four times, once with our neighbors. Debated whether Bewitched was entertaining fluff or stupid crap. Debated whether large or small shrimp is good for a salad (Since I cannot and will not abide large pieces of meat in a salad, I lobbied for small shrimp and won out. Besides, the small shrimp bag was labeled "Salad Shrimp".) Swam. Debated whether we should see any movies this summer. Did yardwork in the heat. Won this on eBay; didn't win this. Slept a lot.