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Category Archives: Amusements

Barefootin’

New YouTube find: a perky Mountain Dew commercial from the mid-sixties. The spot features bits with Joan Crawford (likely still a PepsiCo board member at the time) and mustachioed variety show mainstay Avery Shreiber. I still think it’s funny how the early Dew was marketed with a hayseed hillbilly theme.

Go Fish

I’ve created a House of Cards at flickr to showcase a set of odds-‘n-ends vintage playing cards. Some of these I vaguely remember, others are a mystery. All came courtesy of snarkmistress Julie. Thanks, Julie!

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Soy Bomb

Continuing the theme from the previous post, Derrick Bostrom shares a new array of Japanese snacks and toys. I especially like the Pocky chocolate covered sticks clearly labeled “For Men” on the box. Do they have a musky scent or something?

The Exploding Plastic Inevitable

Today I thought I’d utilize the wonders of YouTube to share a couple of groovy old doll commercials from the early ’70s. First we have a 1971 spot for Rock Flowers, a multiracial trio which were supposed to be an outta-sight musical group like Josie & The Pussycats. As Casey Kasem points out in his voice-over, each doll came with its own record. The little girl with a weird flip hairdo looks like a budding Rock Flowers groupie. Rock on, little girl.

Next we have a commercial for everybody’s favorite, Blythe, from 1972. Dig the music, in which a gritty sounding Joe Cocker-alike sings “Open your eyes to the world of Blythe.” Not something I’d usually associate with dolls, but I like! Not surprisingly, Kenner chose to emphasize the doll’s huge, penetrating eyes. As a YouTube commenter accurately noted, “I always feel like they’re staring deep into my soul.” Too true.

Dress for Tiki-ness

Too cool — Disney is selling reproductions of the original Enchanted Tiki Room shirt and dress worn by Disneyland Cast Members in the sixties! Love that custom fabric pattern (I just wish they had a better view of it). Read the fascinating two part story on how the dress came to be remade (thanks to Mr. Bali Hai for pointing this out).

A Ceramic Fantasia

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Just finished being wowed again while re-watching Walt Disney’s Fantasia. Yeah, we all know that it’s a gorgeously animated marriage of animation and classical music. But I think it’s fascinating how, in this movie, Disney essentially captured America’s aesthetic tastes as of 1940. For all its highbrow aspirations, the film drew a lot of its visuals from decidedly middlebrow sources. You can see it in, for example, the saucy “pinup girl” look bestowed upon the centaurettes from the Pastoral Sympony sequence. Decorated tchotckes from the 5 and 10 cent store appear to be the main influence behind the goldfish and flowers in the Nutcracker Suite sequence. The Pastoral Symphony’s overwhelmingly cute baby pegasus and bare-butted cherubs were tailor made for people who felt more comfortable with Mickey Mouse than Salvador Dalí. Let’s face it, Disney knew his audience well.

Given all that, it’s no surprise that Disney once had a contract with California pottery manufacturer Vernon Kilns to produce a line of Fantasia-inspired ceramic dinnerware and figurines. Due to the lack of success upon the film’s original release, these pieces were only available for a very short time and didn’t sell well. And now, of course, they’re highly coveted by Disneyana collectors. I’ve tried to locate photos of this stuff on various online auction sites and have them listed below. This isn’t a definitive list, but check out the photos and see if you agree that this is some of the coolest bric-a-brac ever made: