Friday, August 1, 2008

Reasons To Be Cheerful: week of 08/01/08

Back on the 'cheerful' horse after a couple of busy cheer-impaired weeks.
Things and stuff keep catching my attention and drawing me this way and that...

Oh, the places you'll go!

1. Stumbling upon a blog post about the
oh-so-tempting and surely essential functioning reproduction Batphone
led first to Red Hot Phones.Com, where they sell such things (complete with flashing red light) and other compelling red 'emergency' and hot-line phones.

A little bit more delving led in turn to detailed instructions on How To Build Your Own Batphone, supplied at Millionaire Playboy.

But wait! The Millionaire Playboy article took me further along to Old Phones.Com, where they're selling beautifully refurbished antique telephones.

◀ I've wanted an old 1920's 'candlestick' phone as long as I can remember, but I'll admit that the 1940's 211 'hang-up' space-saver wall phone is pretty darn sexy, too. ▶

But just as the nagging notion of 'practicality' began to enter my fantasies, I found the 'Port-O-Rotary' portable rotary phone, listed at the SparkFun Electronics site.

It's also a refurbished old rotary dial telephone, but refitted as a completely functional 2-pound cell phone.

Available in black or red, complete with dialtone and original ringer, it charges on a battery just like your cell, the rotary dial funtions and works for phone numbers up to 15 digits, and when you plug the SIM card from your cellphone into its port, there's no difference to your cell service.

Practicality be damned, this is cool!

2. Speaking of cool, I was lucky enough a few days ago to catch the current art show at the Oakland Museum of California - -
'The Birth of the Cool: California Art, Design and Culture at Midcentury', before it leaves later this month.

It ran last year at the Orange County Museum of Art, and has been at a few other places since.
If the show continues to travel and comes to a museum near you, I can strongly recommend checking it out.

It was funny, though - - There was so much among the Eames chairs and large geometric abstract paintings and West Coast Jazz and all the rest that felt so very cozy to me; There was so much of it that I recall as being all around when I was growing up in the bay area. I could have moved in to the installation...

The show also featured a few examples of 'modern' mid-century design as represented in animated cartoons. In addition to the familiar sight of Gerald McBoing Boing and Wile.E Coyote, I was happily introduced to the work of experimental filmmaker Hy Hirsh (1911-1961).

The exhibition curators chose his 4-minute animated piece from 1959, 'Chasse des Touches', that set a musical background of Thelonius Monk's 'Evidence' against an expressive and hypnotic cascade of abstract imagery Hirsh had created with a manipulated cathode-ray tube and an optical printer.

The result is delightful, and reminiscent of some of animator Norman McLaren's early work.

Now I need more information! Now I need to see more examples! But for now...
- See The Iota Center website for a wealth of info about Hy Hirsh.

- Via UBUWEB, watch 'Come Closer'. From 1952, a film somewhat similar to 'Chasse des Touches', though centering more on his work with oscilloscope images.

3. Okay, here's me chiming in late on a topic that's already been discussed to death;
So I've now seen that first trailer for next year's 'Watchmen' movie a couple of times, and I'll admit that so far it's looking like maybe the flick won't suck.

- If you've not seen it yet, check out the trailer at IMDb
(or at Empire).

As with so many movies, (comic book-related or not)
I refuse to get my hopes up - - AND it is another adaptation of an Alan Moore comic book series after all, so it's subject to that particular 'curse'.

Still - - after hearing about possible screenplays and possible directors for years, it looks like perhaps the upcoming blockbuster film treatment could be at least attempting to 'get it right'.

Since you asked, my personal opinion remains that maybe a filmed adaptation could have been best produced as an epic, 12-part, 12-hour HBO miniseries. But the world is full of fanboys with opinions... (and they all have blogs)

- You can also click over to Movieweb to view 7 hi-res 'Watchmen' movie posters seen at Comic-Con.

4. But a couple of upcoming DVDs about which I am unabashedly excited:

- 'The Little Rascals: The Complete Collection' coming at the end of October from Genius Products.

Reputedly fully restored, remastered, and uncut, it's an 8-disc box set containing the 80 'Our Gang' theatrical short comedies produced with sound by Hal Roach from 1928 - 1938. (The ones that were packaged for TV syndication as 'The Little Rascals')

So, not the earlier, rarely-seen silent comedies, and also not the post-Hal Roach MGM shorts from '38 - '44.

(No sadly-teenaged Spanky and Alfalfa, no Froggy, no Mickey 'Robert Blake' Gubitosi)

This is bound to be a better set than the frustrating 'public domain', scatter-shot, visually poor hodgepodges that have been previously available. Hurray!

(See also my previous post about June 'Miss Crabtree' Marlowe)

- Shout! Factory's 3-disc DVD set, 'I Got the Feelin': James Brown in the 60's' is due for release later this week, and sounds like a must-have no-brainer.

The set features 2 1968 live concerts taped for TV; one at NYC's Apollo Theater, one at the Boston Garden, along with many extras and a documentary about the political backdrop of the Boston concert that set James on a new revolutionary path.

- Click over to Bedazzled! for more info on the James Brown DVD set.

5. Further fun is anticipated in the pages of another collection of comic strips from The Perry Bible Fellowship.

Creator Nicholas Gurewitch's first book collection, 'The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories' was just perfectly twisted and great (and the book is expected to be going out of print soon).

The second book, 'The Perry Bible Fellowship Almanack' is being released by Dark Horse in a few months (and Nicholas Gurewitch is expected to be retiring the strip soon).

6. Some notable vintage cartooning on the web radar recently:

- Milt Gross' 1936 illustrations from Margaret Linden's 'Pasha The Persian' at Comicrazys. ▶
(Via The Comics Journal's Journalista blog)

Any example of Milt Gross work, anytime, and I'm there.
Love his stuff!

(See also a previously posted reference to Mr. Gross in
'Banana Oil')

- And lastly, animation and comics historian Jerry Beck's posting about 'The Worst Comic Strip - - Ever' is something you must see. ▼

Follow the link to see more examples of 'Uncle Funny Bunny and Chumpy' ▲ at Cartoon Brew!

A true Leonard Pinth-Garnell experience from the 1950's, this thunderingly unfunny strip ran in the educational elementary school classroom magazine, The Weekly Reader.

1 comment:

la peregrina said...

Hello, stumbled on you blog and have been perusing the archives for the past two days- wonderful stuff here.

I remember reading Uncle Funny Bunny in my Weekly Reader as a child and am very relieved to discover that Funny Bunny is just as unfunny as I thought he was when I was a kid.

At the time I thought there was something wrong with me but now I know problem wasn't me but Jack Pierce. He seems to have been one of those adults who thought children would find just the idea of talking animals funny. I sure didn't.

Freshly-stirred links