I was going to write about the first ten songs that came up when my iTunes shuffled, but instead let’s take a look at this mesmerizing short that envisions 1960s Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli shopping for groceries. And look, there’s 1970s Ann Miller working the check-out register! It’s clever how they matched the lip movements with the new words. Gay as all get out – and funny, too.
Dave Steed of Popdose has been doing a weekly exploration of vintage 1990s Bottom Feeders, songs that peaked at #41-100 in the Billboard Hot 100, for a couple of months now. Part 11, covering Brooks & Dunn through Tracy Byrd, has just been posted. Since I generally like most ’90s music except for the twangiest of Country and the most gangsta of Hip-Hop, there’s been a lot to enjoy. The neatest find so far has been this sly, Fugees-like cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody” by a female R&B duo known as The Braids. The single made it all the way to #42 in 1996 – so why is it so hard to believe I’d never heard of it until 2012?
OK, so she couldn’t sing, but could she act? Here she is showing that continental flair in a commercial for Lawry’s Seasoned Salt from the same period. I think I’d enjoy noshing on a hamburger with Zsa Zsa.
Making out way though our fabboo Best of Password DVD set, we came across this 1965 episode with guest stars Betty White and the elegant Arlene Francis. The Betty White Passwords are always lots of fun. She has a great, flirty repartee with host Alan Ludden (a.k.a. Mr. Betty White) and her fellow players in addition to being a sharp player. What makes this one even more interesting is that the players are well-known comic strip artists of the day, including Al Capp (‘Lil Abner) and Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey). The artists were playing for charity to support a gallery show they put on in response to Pop Artists using their comic book imagery. The artists aren’t too great at playing Password, really, but the episode is an excellent little window into that (white, male, mostly stodgy) world of newspaper comic strips of the mid-sixties.
The fascinating story behind the comic book artists (and the Pop Art show) featured in this episode can be read on this CSBG weblog post from comix expert Greg Hatcher.
One of the Christmas gifts I got for my spouse was the 12-DVD Classic Sci Fi TV: 150 Episodes set from Mill Creek. This set has a ton of old, really cheesy but entertaining TV dramas and serials, mostly dating from the 1950s. These hoary old kinescopes with wooden acting and predictable plots are not for every taste, but we’re digging them.
One of the more intriguing curios on the set is the show Captain Z-Ro. The show was produced locally for a San Francisco station in 1955-56, then syndicated nationwide. It followed the mustachioed Captain Z-Ro and his young sidekick, Jet, as they traveled through time and learned about various historical events on Earth. I was expecting pure cheese from this one, but the show is actually quite fun and nicely produced for a local early TV effort. The Mill Creek set includes a total of 24 episodes of this particular opus, so it should keep us plenty busy.
Lately we’ve been watching this Best of Password DVD that I recently ordered. It’s actually quite fun, with 30 episodes that give a glimpse of famous stars like Carol Burnett and Dick Van Dyke when they were young (early to mid ’60s).
It reminded me of a game show that didn’t make it, the one that David Letterman hosted in the ’70s. I remember Dave talking about this one rather disparagingly with guest Michael McKean on his NBC show. The show was called The Riddlers (1977), and it’s actually on YouTube. Part one is below. Letterman has a bit of snark, which makes it more watchable than most ’70s game shows.
Since 2000, Scrubbles.net has been the online stomping grounds for Phoenix, AZ designer Matt Hinrichs. I'm a curious and curmudgeonly type who gets off on obscure and unsung pop culture of yore. Or something like that.