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Author Archives: Matt

Popcorn in Bulk

WFMU shares 79 versions of the song “Popcorn” at their weblog. Gershon Kingsley’s original version of the tune sounds so different from the Hot Butter hit of two years later. I enjoyed James Last’s trumpet-heavy take as well. And don’t forget The Marimba Band of Fairfax High School‘s charming cover, contributed by Otis Fodder last January. All very diverse renditions of the same hypnotic melody; more about the song at Wikipedia.

Ladies in Waiting

Just spotted that DVD Savant has an item about Warner Home Video readying a series of Cult Camp Classics DVD boxes for a June 26th release. All four sets look tantalizingly good, but the one that had me really jazzed was the “Women In Peril” one containing latter-day vehicles for two aging movie queens (Joan Crawford in Trog and Lana Turner in The Big Cube, neither of which I’ve seen) and the excellent Women In Prison flick Caged. The latter is honestly not very campy, but its DVD release of this high-style Warner Brothers melodrama will be a welcome one. Eleanor Parker? Excellent. The lady who plays the quasi-lesbian prison guard? Also excellent (okay, maybe the movie’s got some camp).

Caged

Speaking of Women In Peril movies, I just had the “priviledge” of watching Lauren Bacall’s turn at the genre in her 1981 thriller/camp classic The Fan. For those with short memories, this is the one where she plays a famous stage actress stalked by an obsessed fan (played by Michael Biehn). Overall it’s pretty bad, but in a slick and watchable way that reminded me another trashy film from that same period — the Jodie Foster “teenagers gone wild” opus Foxes. Biehn’s murders raise more questions than answers (like, how could he get away with stabbing a guy in a crowded public pool?), and the whole thing lumbers along predictably. Bacall’s song and dance numbers at the climax are all laughably awful, like some dime store TV telethon thing. Of course, the audience in the movie cheers rapturously every time. Her fictional show deserves a fictional Tony Award for Best Unintentional Comedy.

Fussbudgets Rejoice

Look at what Fantagraphics will be giving away as part of Free Comic Book Day on May 5th — The Unseen Peanuts, a collection of rare strips which never got reprinted in those ubiquitous old Peanuts paperbacks. Some of these strips have already been collected in the Complete Peanuts volumes, but it’ll be nice to have them all in one place.

Four for the Feeds

Still working out the kinks on this WordPress conversion, but I have a few new (to me) weblogs to share which I can across during the transition period:

  • Vintage Pop is the latest venture from J.D. Roth of Folded Space. This one deals in early 20th century American pop culture, and he’s already off to a great start (and thanks for helping me out, J.D.!).
  • Condour of Wacky Neighbor has embarked on another project in the form of Smallist, a weblog dealing with all things miniscule. It’s fascinating the variety of stuff one can write about in such a small area, no pun intended.
  • I came across The Hits Just Keep Comin’ after the proprietor linked to a scrubbles post. Nice writings on pop music of the recent past, especially as it relates to the Billboard charts (a freaky obsession of mine). Loved the recent post on the vaguely psychedelic ez-listening obscurity “1900 Yesterday” by Liz Damon & The Orient Express (among other tunes).
  • Modeling Midcentury Modern comes from a guy who does these amazing 3-D models of vintage buildings. His rendering of the Monsanto House of the Future was recently linked on The Disney Blog, but my personal fave might be this nifty old-skool Jack In The Box.

Betty Hutton: Ball of Fire

Howard Keel and Betty Hutton in Annie Get Your GunEarlier this week, I was saddened to hear about the death of singer-actress Betty Hutton at age 86. What a roller-coaster life she lived. Hutton is one of those odd, semi-forgotten performers that old movie fans rarely have neutral feelings towards. Many find her brassy personality annoying, but personally I love her total lack of inhibition. Especially considering that, during her peak in the ’40s, female singers were expected to come off as ladylike as possible. What impressed me the most about her was her versatility. She completely throws herself into Annie Get Your Gun with contagious energy, for example, but what really surprises are the moments where she conveys a touching vulnerability. For a peek of Betty at her best, enjoy her performance of “Doctor, Laywer, Indian Chief” from the 1945 musical The Stork Club:

Dumb and Dumber

A couple of articles to make you question the intelligence of Americans – first up the L.A. Times has a piece on how TV games shows have gotten progressively easier over the last decade or so. A depressing read which reminded me of how much my own family absolutely adores Deal or No Deal. Granted I’ve never watched an episode, but c’mon, picking suitcases? It just goes to show that you can’t choose your relatives.

This one’s a little less of a downer – Entertainment Weekly on unfinished books. Everybody has at least one book which was started in all earnestness, but never completed. But what about the books that you just have sitting around with no intention of ever reading? Going through a bookshelf recently, I was struck by a pristine copy of The Tale of Genji which has only been saved from the fate of the thrift store box for its nice cover design. Only a severe sickness would ever drive me to read that book.