Archive for the ‘Amusements’ Category

Circus Poles

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Cyrk poster, Bohdan Bocianowsk, 1971.

This circus poster, created by Polish artist Bohdan Bocianowski in 1971, will soon be a new addition at 4 Color Cowboy. That image perfectly encapsulates the 4 Color Cowboy aesthetic – a glitzy, once-removed version of the classic American Western themes.

I actually found a ton of great Polish circus poster designs on the web – pieces striking in their bold colors, simplified imagery, and lack of text. While the Polish artwork on ’60s-’80s era film posters is justifiably celebrated, these circus design were totally new – and inspiring – to me. I love how the various artists incorporated the single work “Cyrk” and found unusual ways of depicting typical circus animals. Funky! I chose some of the bolder, critter-oriented designs to share here.

Wiktor Gorka, 1969.

Wiktor Gorka, c. 1968.

Wiktor Gorka, 1970s.

Through Spray Colored Glasses

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

We’ve been back from our California vacation for more than a week now. It’s taken a while for re-grouping, however, since I came down with the flu immediately upon return to home. Now that I’m feeling better, I’m able to share some of the photos I took there. The photos accompanying this post are shot with an iPod Touch 5 and fudged with Wood Camera, an Instagram-like app.

For this trip, we went back to Disneyland. You probably already know that I love Disneyland. My spouse hates it, however, so we go there probably once every 8-9 years as a compromise (I’m actually cool with this arrangement!). In my adult life, I’ve been there in 1987, 1995, 1996, 2005, and now 2013. I’ve enjoyed every time, but it seems like every new visit, the park becomes more tourist-trappy and not so special. At least for this new trip, we had two and a half days of exploring, which made for a more relaxed trip overall. Despite several major attractions being closed for refurbishments, Disneyland was fantastic. We used the Fastpasses wisely and got onto nearly all the rides we wanted (the Golden Horseshoe Revue wasn’t doing any live performances, only serving food). On the newly re-done Star Tours, I ended up being the rebel spy that our ship needed to transport – fun! The crowd at Disneyland was nice and mellow, a change from the somewhat more ghetto-y crowd at DCA the previous night. After our Disneyland day, we got together with the fabulous, unbelievably talented Disney designer Kevin Kidney, who braved a hoarse voice to chat with us for about an hour.

I was also looking forward to Disney’s California Adventure and seeing the massive changes they’ve made since our 2005 visit, when we saw all we wanted in a mere half-day. The Hollywood Street, made to look like Los Angeles of Disney’s 1927-33 era, is a fantastic place. We loved taking pictures and noticing the real-life buildings they used as inspiration. The whole area is so classy and beautifully imagineered, a complete turnaround from the cheesy, thrown-together look of DCA on our earlier visit. Later on that night, we got a prime viewing spot for their nightly World Of Color water/light show – even the Disney-averse Christopher was impressed with this one, and that’s saying a lot. The photo below is of us, wet and dazzled, ready to get back to the hotel. The merchandise at both parks was yet again overpriced and underwhelming, but overall we came away happy and thoroughly entertained. At the Disney Gallery, I came away with a swell coffee table book – Poster Art of the Disney Parks – as a memento of our trip.

Disnelyand/DCA didn’t make up all of our vacation – the first morning, we stopped at Newport Beach and walked around for more than an hour. It was lovely; we’ve never been to that particular beach, which had some trash issues but otherwise was fine ‘n mellow. On our way back to Phoenix, we traveled to Simi Valley and the Reagan Library for their exhibit of Disney-related objects (of course!). The museum was beautifully laid out, and if the Reagan exhibit was somewhat revisionist/optimistic it was nicely done and very admiring of the man. The Disney part had a ton of great stuff, including a re-creation of Walt’s office (seen for many years in Disneyland) and a fascinating/strange display of the model heads of all the U.S. presidents used for the Walt Disney World Hall of Presidents.

While the imagery with this blog post gives a good idea of our trip’s visual delights, we took a ton of other (unaltered) photos – which are seen in the Flickr set below.

Animal skull found on Newport Beach, 2/11/2013.

Lifeguard station at Newport Beach, California, 2/11/13.

Nemo Submarine port hole, Disneyland, 2/12/13.

Princess Fantasy Faire diorama at Disney’s California Adventure preview center, 2/13/13.

Matt and Christopher after a long, tough day in Disney’s California Adventure, 2/13/13.

Display of bust maquettes for Walt Disney World’s Hall of Presidents attraction, Ronald Reagan Library, Simi Valley, California, 2/14/13.

Cherry trees in full bloom at the Reagan Library, Simi Valley, Calfornia, 2/14/13.

Having Wonderful Time

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

Vintage postcard of Fantasyland in Disneyland, circa 1960.

Today I’m looking at artifacts from The Happiest Place On Earth™. As my first trip there in seven years plus six months approaches, I’m pretty excited. Last month, we went to a local paper memorabilia collectors’ show – and in anticipation, I scoured the dealers’ supply of vintage Disneyland postcards for stuff to add to my collection. Mostly I just look for interesting images of bygone attractions, meaning basically not-so-rare items like the Fantasyland one pictured above. There were several I wanted, but I ultimately ended up with the ones pictured here for under $20 – including the rarity seen at the end of this entry.

Chorus girls high kickin’ it at the Golden Horseshoe Revue. Most Disneyland postcards have some sense of the bustling activity of tourists at the park, but I kinda like how this one captures a laid-back dress rehearsal (or maybe it’s just a poorly attended performance). For this next trip, I’m planning to check out places like the G.H.R. that I wouldn’t normally seek out. Since this is one of the few spots in the park basically unchanged since the ’50s, I’m looking forward to checking it out (really, this postcard might look exactly the same photographed today in the same spot).

And now, a view that the Disney Co. suits have casually ruined! The two Mary Blair tile murals in Tomorrowland were among my favorite things in Disneyland as a child – riding the Peoplemover, craning to see all the details and colors in the tiles. Good times. I think Walt Disney understood that things like this, although they didn’t have a “spacey” feel that totally adhered to the tomorrow theme, accurately captured the optimism of the future. As for what they have there now, I don’t particularly care.

The entrance of Adventureland, captured at or around the time Disneyland first opened in 1955. The early D-land card have that sparse look, along with shoddier printing that accentuated the pink/magenta side of the color spectrum. This one was a little more pricey, but I’m so happy I bought it to go along with the early view of the Main Street horse-drawn carriage already in the postcard collection. At first I thought they changed this entrance somehow since then, but I think it’s the mature tropical foliage that has subsequently grown around the structure that makes it different looking.

A lot of Disneyland postcards have a standardized layout on the reverse side, but sometimes one finds a neat graphic like the Tinkerbell below, which was on the Fantasyland card at the top of this entry. What a cute way to say “wish you were here.”

Mattel’s Man in Space

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Found, in our twice-weekly trips to the trash alley behind our house: this cardboard box panel from a Major Matt Mason Fireball Space Cannon, manufactured by Mattel in 1968. We tend to find a lot of crazy/weird stuff back there, but a 44 year-old box flap? That’s a first.

Although I’m a firm skeptic on the topic of messages from the Great Beyond, part of me wants to believe that this was some sort of sign from my friend (and reader) Brad, who passed away suddenly a year ago. Brad was a huge Major Matt Mason fan who used the MMM logo as his online avatar. Were he still around, I’m sure he would have gotten a big kick out of this find.

Major Matt Mason Space Mission Team activity set, 1960s.

Major Matt Mason frame tray puzzle, 1960s.

Major Matt Mason catalog insert, 1966.

Montgomery Ward’s Major Matt Mason catalog page, 1968

Learning About Art & Design, 1960 Style

Saturday, November 10th, 2012

Another swellerific Flickr set – filler cartoons from the index and dictionary of the Famous Artists course, 1960 edition. This particular copy I came across had the student’s name embossed on the cover… which kinda makes me wonder if Alita Knowlton got a chuckle or two from these little gags.

While the book doesn’t credit the artist who did these cartoons, they’re pretty wonderful. I scanned all 30 or so of them for the Flickr set; some highlights are below.

44th Birthday Goodies

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Today I turn 44, hooray! It’s an unwritten rule that the older you get, the longer amount of time you are allowed to have your birthday celebration. That in mind, we already did a lot of fun things already (like going to the amazing Musical Instrument Museum last week), so today was relatively low-key. Still, I did get some great stuff from the wonderful Christopher – he surprised me today with a Mad Magazine Super Special that I once mentioned enjoying as a kid, along with two Wii games, a framed Joyce Compton cigarette card, and a shiny metal business card holder adorned with a photo of Diana Ross & The Supremes. What a guy! The Blu Ray was a gift to myself from Criterion‘s recent half-off sale.

We also shared a slice of yummy berry cheesecake this afternoon.