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Monthly Archives: February 2008

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Stop and Smell the Daisies

A combination of busyness and lack of fresh inspiration is preventing me from posting anything here. Sorry. I will be back on Sunday, but in the meantime enjoy this shot of the lovely African daisies growing in our back yard and alley:

African Daisies

Weekly Mishmash: February 17-23

Starting today, I’m going to do a little roundup of the movies, books, music and whatever else I’ve digested over the previous week. Here we go!
The African Queen (1951) Bogie and Kate, leeches and tsetse flies. This is one of those rare classic movies that I’d never seen before due to the fact that it’s always “there” and someday I’ll get around to it (the film equivalent of spring cleaning or flossing). What a wonderful film. In addition to having a lot of adventure and romance, John Huston and James Agee’s screenplay sparkles with the sort of smart and non-stylized dialogue rarely heard in films from that period.
Before the Music Dies (2006) A documentary that attacks the consolidation of America’s music and radio conglomerates and the focus group tested, mass audience pleasing pap they produce. This film made a lot of excellent points, but it honestly didn’t illuminate or tell me anything I didn’t already know. Despite the appearance of several heavy-wattage musicians (Erykah Badu was the best), it seemed cobbled together with a lot of cheap shots and unnecessary live footage. I’d even argue that the kind of earnest folk and blues that this film champions has never been commercially viable — so what’s the point?
The Chordettes — “They’re Riding High” Says Archie. An eMusic download of the female harmony-pop quartet best known for the fantastic “Mr. Sandman.” This LP is a Best-Of originally released in 1957 (the Archie of the title is Cadence Records head Archie Bleyer, who was married to one of the ladies). Although it’s missing the later hits “Lollipop” and “Never On Sunday,” I really enjoyed this plushly produced, sweet stuff — not nearly as cheesy or sleep-inducing as I thought.
The Lives of Others (2006). Fascinating film that offers a glimpse into a time and place that I previously had little knowledge of (Communist East Germany in the ’80s). It comes across a touch too talky at first, but after a while I was so absorbed in the characters that it didn’t matter.
Stranger Than Fiction (2006). Will Farrell hearing voices in his head. An excellent cast and a thought-provoking premise, and I loved the graphic treatment of Farrell’s various anal-retentive habits. The only thing that bothered me was when (spoiler alert!) Dustin Hoffman advised Farrell to sacrifice himself so that Emma Thompson could publish her novel as it was intended. Would any halfway decent person with a conscience really do that?
La Vie En Rose (2007). Edith Piaf was a phenomenal singer, a prickly personality, and a hardcore drug abuser. That’s about all I learned from this film, but it sure is a beautifully made biopic — and Marion Cottiard is unbelievably good. I’m pulling for her to nab that Oscar.

More Bunnies

Posted another installment of Two Bunnies and a Duck today. This new one was done in ink. The lines are darker, making the words easier to read — but I don’t like drawing in ink as much, and the results came out wobbly looking. Back to pencil for the next one. I have several weeks’ worth of comics planned (but not yet drawn).

Wednesday Photo Spectacular!

It’s becoming apparent that this weblog has been suffering a bit of neglect lately, but hopefully I can put a Band Aid (similar to the one I got today for a tetanus shot) on that with these marvy photo-based links:

  • Most Important: Newsweek’s slide show Losing Our Lakes demonstrates how global warming is contributing to lowering water levels all over the world. Sobering but well worth a look.
  • Most Inspiring: Derrick Bostrom’s set of scans from an early ’60s book predicting what life in 1975 might be like. Apparently the future involved lots of industrial squared-off edges and gadgets we never thought we needed before. Bacon in a toaster? Hell yeah!
  • Most Nostalgia-Inducing: Glen Mullaly’s series of posts on the movie and TV tie-in t-shirts he wore as a child hit me like a tall glass of Strawberry Quik. Read part one, part two and part three for a journey into iron-on nirvana. I can remember having a black Darth Vader tee in the fifth grade, with my name spelled out in blood red all-caps Cooper Black on the back. It was the coolest.
  • Most Magical: I stumbled across this fascinating flickr photo set of early Walt Disney World snapshots and memorabilia last weekend. In planning my own WDW trip this spring, it’s kind of hitting me that I’d much, much rather vacation at the Magic Kingdom/Epcot as it existed sometime around 1983 (sigh).

New Mix: The Mr. Blackwell Show

Nowadays he might be dimly known for his bitchy “Worst Dressed” lists, but back in the ’60s Richard Blackwell had his own fashion line for plus-sized women and society matrons desiring a Beverly Hills sophisticated-yet-casual look. The gowns (and, yes, it was mostly gowns) he created had this luxe “swanky chic” thing going on — something I wanted to recreate using soundtrack cuts and soft pop music of the era. It’s in the same spirit as my holiday mix that I decided to share it with Scrubbles readers right here, in a downloadable continuous mix.

So, what was I going for on this one? It’s the sound of a modish soirée in a Technicolor Blake Edwards confection. Or of a woman in a Pucci print caftan curling up with a Jacqueline Susann novel. It’s “The Ladies Who Lunch” on a Mediterranean cruise. Luxurious, somewhat cheesy, but oh so elegant. If I could pick one track that epitomizes that feeling, it would be Henry Mancini’s lovely “Party Poop” from the soundtrack for the Peter Sellers comedy The Party. Enjoy.

The Mr. Blackwell Collection - Front

The Mr. Blackwell Collection - Back

Movie Poster Artist Extraordinaire

After dealing with little to nothing on the web about the great ’70s/’80s illustrator Richard Amsel, it’s a pleasure to see Adam McDaniel’s wonderful tribute to the artist. I’ve written in awe about Amsel before; he was a fantastic talent, but also something of an enigma. I wonder what would’ve been of his career had he not died so young. The site includes a nicely written bio and comprehensive galleries of his TV Guide covers and movie poster art. Of special interest are his unused cinematic poster concepts, like the one below for The Muppet Movie. Cool stuff!

Richard Amsel Muppet Movie