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Shoulder-Padded TV

Could I be the only one psyched about the Knots Landing Reunion coming up this Friday on CBS? This coincides nicely with news of the soaper’s first season DVD set, planned for an unconfirmed release in January (TV Shows On DVD has the artwork). I could just imagine someone watching it all in one sitting, jogging suit on, all the while eating Dove Bar ice cream straight out of the container.

I never watched Knots in the ’80s, but now the Soapnet weekend repeats have me hooked. Currently they’re midway through the 1984-85 season, the only one with Alec Baldwin as hunky preacher boy Joshua Rush. This season’s storylines actually aren’t as compelling as the previous years’. Things are getting too weird. The most notable change that year might be the behind the scenes addition of costume designer Travilla — suddenly the character’s wardrobes went from low key casual to blown-out “Eighties Contempo”, with matchy-matchy ensembles, chunky jewelry and shoulder pads everywhere. Odd.

Passed By

Christopher keeps pestering me: “When are you going to write about Pasadena?” Well, how about now.

The Soapnet channel is about halfway through running this series, which originally had a perplexingly short run on the Fox network in 2001. I’m getting a Desperate Housewives/Twin Peaks-vibe from this twisted family soap opera, beautifully scripted by Mike White (indie films Chuck and Buck and The Good Girl) and produced by Diane Keaton (who often has a hand in quirky, overlooked fare like this). The cast is headed by Dana Delany as the bitchy passive-aggressive mom, the kind of woman who casually observes the family dog eating a lethal helping of rat poison. Actually, the entire cast is superb and the storyline (about a murder in the well-connected family’s past) is very compelling. So, how did something this good not last long? Unfortunately, it premiered in September 2001. Fox didn’t know how to handle something this unconventional (same with Firefly) and canned the show after airing only four episodes. Soapnet is airing all thirteen episodes produced, with the central “Philip Parker” mystery being resolved at the end. Catch it before it goes, and hopefully if the ratings are decent enough there will be a future DVD release.

Gobble, Gobble

This Thanksgiving, we need to bow our heads and take time to remember the woman who invented Stove Top Stuffing. By the way, the Cornbread Stove Top with chopped apple pieces? Excellent. Thanks for the link, Brad.

Gruesome Twosome: Limeys Only Edition

Split Enz: “Six Months In A Leaky Boat”
LP: Time and Tide, 1982 | BUY

Reparata & The Delrons: “Captain Of Your Ship”
Mala Records single, 1968 | BUY

Two psychedelic odes to sea travel and the vagaries of love. The Split Enz track captures them in their usual overlooked brilliance, while Reparata & the Delrons’ (huge in the UK, obscure in the US) single proves that Waylon Smithers was wrong — women and seamen do mix. These files will be available for four weeks. After that, it’s “sayonara”.

A Reader in Phoenix Writes

This is the neatest thing: in their June 15th, 1940 issue, The New Yorker published a colorful two-page map of the 1940 New York Worlds Fair. I came across this paging through The Complete New Yorker (for some reason, the map is not listed in the software’s search engine). I mean, look:

Isn’t that the greatest? I now find that the NYer covered the Fair extensively. They commissioned covers and cartoons, wrote about the exhibits and music presentations, and even ran “Talk of the Town” pieces on such matters as broadcasting radio reports of news from Europe at the fairgrounds (they noted with relief when the practice was stopped).

Actually, I happened to be reading Thomas Kunkel’s swell bio of New Yorker founder Harold Ross, Genius In Disguise. Every time an interesting article is mentioned in the book, I make a note to look it up. In the process, I wind up finding other stuff to make note of, until I have too way much stuff to read. A vicious cycle that never ends. Anyway, some other finds:

  • A lively profile of teenage debutante Brenda Frazier by E.J. Kahn, Jr. (June 10, 1939) Frazier was sorta the Paris Hilton of her day, an unpretentious yet glamorous young lady who somehow became Miss Hot Thing of late ’30s New York. Kahn’s profile is actually sympathetic to Miss Frazier and fascinating to read.
  • In 1938, Life magazine ran a controversial yet popular photo feature called “The Birth of a Baby”. The New Yorker‘s takeoff is a hilarious two pager called “The Birth of an Adult” (April 3, 1938) written by E.B. White and illustrated by Rea Irvin.
  • Geoffrey T. Hellman’s three part profile of industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes began in the February 8, 1940 issue. I haven’t read this one yet, but it devotes some space to the Bel Geddes-designed General Motors Worlds Fair exhibit called ‘Futurama’ — ’nuff said.
  • There’s also the profiles which made Harold Ross the enemy of powerful men — former friend Alexander Woolcott (March 18, 1939), the famous Henry Luce profile written in Timespeak (November 28, 1936), Walter Winchell (a multiparter that begun in the same 1940 issue as the Worlds Fair map!), Readers Digest founder DeWitt Wallace (November 17, 1945).

Suffice to say that these stories are from only a short period during the Ross Era. Does anyone else have interesting old New Yorker articles to share? It’s going to be a long winter.

More Retro Videogames at Flickr

Someone has assembled a large Flickr pool of retro videogame magazine pages that was inspired by my Videogame Ads of 1982 set. I think I owned this very issue of Electronic Games magazine.