Friday, October 31, 2008

(link:) 'The Joe Sixpack Song' from Rita Abrams

I had a very nice e-mail out of the blue the other day from Rita Abrams, the once-upon-a-time 4th-grade school teacher in my home town, the same one who gave us all the once-upon-a-time hit song 'Mill Valley' way back in 1970.

Rita had seen the post I did about her last year, the one that featured the little Xmas song she recorded in 1976, when I had a pre-teen voice and was part of the children's chorus on the record.

ANYWAY - - We exchanged a couple of e-mails and caught up just a little, and she sent along a new song she's written, all about Joe Sixpack and his real plans for election day this coming Tuesday.

(This Tuesday! Finally, the election part of the election will be done, and we can get on with the rest of what lies ahead...)

Click over to Rita's blog to hear the new Joe Sixpack song, (with vocals by Marcus Uzilevsky), or you can also head to YouTube to watch the video.

Thank so much for sharing, Rita! Keep up the good work!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pat Suzuki - Looking At You (1960)

Pat Suzuki was the first
Japanese American singer signed to a recording contract to a major label in the U.S.

It's a shameful state of affairs when just about all of her classic albums are currently
out-of-print.

Take a listen to Ms. Suzuki's voice on this LP, accompanied by Ralph Burns and his orchestra (including Doc Severinsen and Milt Hinton), and you'll likely agree.

Pat Suzuki was born in 1934 in California's Central Valley, in the farming community of Cressey, where she sang in church and at community events as a child.

Born second-generation Japanese American, she and her family were relocated to the
Amache internment camp near Granada, Colorado during World War II.

Following the war, her family returned to California, where Pat graduated from San Jose State University in 1954.

During a return to San Jose State for postgraduate work in education, Pat sang at local jazz clubs.
Members of the teaching credential committee disapproved, and Pat was denied her teaching certification.

She soon moved to New York, where she began an acting career.

While appearing in the play 'Tea House of the August Moon', the touring company she was with traveled to Seattle, Washington.

Following one evening's show, the cast wound up at The Colony, a popular jazz club in Seattle.
After an impromptu performance on their stage, Pat was offered a regular gig by the club's manager, Norm Bobrow.

Pat Suzuki soon became a staple of Seattle's nightclub scene, and the story goes that it was while singing at The Colony in 1957 that she was 'discovered' by Bing Crosby, who helped her obtain a recording contract with RCA Victor, beginning with it's Vik subsidiary label.

Suzuki had her Broadway debut in Rodgers & Hammerstein's 'Flower Drum Song', which opened in December of 1958 and ran for 600 performances.

During the show's initial stage run and on the original cast album, she popularized the song 'I Enjoy Being A Girl' (though, unlike her co-star Miyoshi Umeki, she did not appear in the 1961 film version).

From the Pat Suzuki LP
'Looking At You'
(RCA Victor Records, 1960),
Listen to:

Looking At You
Small World
Cheek To Cheek
He's My Guy
My Funny Valentine
You Better Go Now
You Brought A New Kind of Love To Me
I See Your Face Before Me
I Didn't Know About You
Easy Living
Don't Look At Me That Way
Let Me Love You

(click for audio)

- - OR download all 12 tracks in one 50.4 Mb zipfile.

- Click on link to read the album's back cover liner notes

See also:
- From the December 22nd, 1958 issue of TIME magazine, read
'The Girls on Grant Avenue', an article about the stage production of 'Flower Drum Song' and its cast, including Miyoshi Umeki and Pat Suzuki.
A biography of Pat Suzuki begins on page 5 of the story.

- A 'Miss Ponytail' post at Schadenfreudian Therapy

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Foodarama living by Kelvinator (1959 print ad)

As is often the case, family life at home tends to center around the kitchen...

... but did it ever really look quite like this?

- - Even in 1959, when this Kelvinator refrigerator ad first appeared?

Is this living?

Click on image to ENLARGE in a new window, and/or view detail scans below...

... And for a closer look at the 'Foodarama Party Book' mentioned in the lower
left-hand corner, click over to
Curly Wurly!

The Lancers - See You In Seattle (at the Big World's Fair) (1962)

The 1962 Seattle World's Fair (also known as The Century 21 Exposition) gave the city of Seattle, Washington its
Space Needle and its downtown monorail system.

In proper world's fair fashion, it was an event crafted to show America's cold war confidence and optimism towards future technology and the space race with the Soviet Union.

The fair presented the world of tomorrow as the shimmering, 'Jetsons'-like utopia it was surely destined to become.

This souvenir record was distributed at the fair.

'The Lancers' (Jerry Meacham, Dick Burr, Bob Porter and Corky Lindgren) had a small, Top-40 radio hit in 1953 with 'Sweet Mama, Tree Top Tall', and though other groups have used the name at different times, these 'Lancers' are probably the same vocal group that had worked around the same time as occasional back-up singers for recording artist Kay Starr.

Your clarifications and updates on this subject are most welcome, feel free to comment or drop a line.

Listen to:
The Lancers -
See You In Seattle (at the Big World's Fair)

(S. W. F. Records 45, 1962)
(click for audio)





See also:
- Scans from a set of 1962 Seattle World's Fair Postcards

- 'Century 21 Calling'; A 1962 Seattle Worlds Fair promotional film, available for viewing at YouTube.

Also see also some previously posted World's Fair related items:
- Whitney Darrow, Jr. illustrations for the 1964 New York World's Fair

- Selections from 'The Wayfarers at the World's Fair' (also N.Y. '64)

- A guidebook from the San Francisco Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915

Friday, October 24, 2008

Reasons To Be Cheerful: week of 10/24/08

(This is a compiled repost of items culled from my soon-to-be-extinct subsidiary blog, 'Brief Window')

1. Chris Wyllie's 'Tailgate The Vote'

Artist Chris Wyllie uses car parts and other found objects in his work, which can be seen at the
Found Gallery in Newport, Rhode Island, and online at the Found Gallery website.

2. Ron Howard Requests Your Attention:



3. I, Nerd (New stills from the upcoming Star Trek flick)

Okay, I'll admit it, I was a little bit heartened the other day by these images from the new
Star Trek flick
- - the one we'll have to wait 'til next Summer to see (whether it's any good or not)...

I'd had a moment several months back when I realized with sudden dismay that although the movie is a 'prequel', they probably wouldn't remain faithful to the look of the original TV series.
Sets, costumes, groovy high-'60s color palette, etc. - -



Perhaps because I'm a nerd,
(and a geezer, too) it just hadn't occurred to me that there might not be an interest in adhering to that style just for some sake of 'continuity'.

- - But at least it looks like they're kinda sorta trying to at least give a passing nod to that style.
A 're-imagining' or something.

Looks like the starships will be a little bit 'retro'-looking, too.

Hooray, I'll take it.

You can see these and other images embiggenated at the 'official' website...

4, Via the rich, linky goodness of Journalista comes the treasures of the extensive illustration archives of
Norman Saunders (1907 - 1989).

A good intro and prelude:
'The Painted Covers of Norman Saunders'
at Comics Should Be Good!


- - and then the massive trove of pulp, paperback, comic book, magazine and trading card artwork at Norman Saunders.Com!!

Dig in, and dig it!




Thursday, October 23, 2008

There's a Tom Lehrer concert video!?!!

(Reposted from 'Brief Window')

When were you planning on telling me about this?

Is this old news? 'Cuz it's a revelation to me.
Gosh, I haven't been this excited since last month's Nichols & May bonanza!

I just stumbled onto 'The Tom Lehrer Wisdom Channel' at YouTube.

It's a collection of Tom Lehrer performing 12 of his songs in rare video clips of a European concert taped in 1967, shortly before he retired from active performing to resume full-time teaching.

Just like so many other people of my generation, Tom Lehrer's brilliantly satirical musical comedy records were a part of my formative years, and just like so many other people, I knew most every song by heart.

But despite the familiarity of his music, much of Lehrer himself remained enigmatic.

There were no photos of Mr. Lehrer on any of his LPs, and I was just a little too young to have seen him on the U.S. version of 'That Was The Week That Was' when it aired on TV.

Seeing photos of Lehrer much later was a sort of curious experience, as I tried to reconcile his appearance with whatever hazy mental image I'd been carrying around since childhood.

Given that lack of previous visual reference, I think it's really fun and revelatory to see Lehrer actually performing in these recently-surfaced video clips.

Mostly, it's just something I never thought I'd see.

Head over to the 'The Tom Lehrer Wisdom Channel' and see for yourself.

Accessing the Main Playlist page will give you the option to watch all of the videos play out in sequence.

Scrolling down to the page's 'Favorites' section will also display some of the paltry few other Tom Lehrer video clips from other sources that have been floating around in recent years.

They may not be as cool as the European concert footage, but it's a blessing to have more choices.

Just a taste below; ▼ Tom Lehrer performs 'The Masochism Tango'

An Actress and her Ocelot: Ursula Andress photographed by William Claxton, 1962

When this small photo-article ran in the April, 1962 issue of Hugh Hefner's short-lived
Show Business Illustrated magazine, Ursula Andress was married to John Derek and living in
Los Angeles, her brief European film career behind her.

(click on images to ENLARGE in a new window)

But within a few months, Andress was on her way to becoming one of the biggest sex symbols of the 1960s when she was seen on movie screens as
Honey Ryder, the first Bond Girl, rising from the surf in her white bikini in 'Dr. No', the first James Bond flick.

Her marriage with John Derek ended in 1966.

She remained busy with film work through the '60s and into the '70s.

Andress was involved with actor
Harry Hamlin around the time they both appeared in the movie 'Clash of the Titans'.
Their son was born in 1980, when she was 43.

The fate of Tiger the ocelot is unknown.

(A side note: Remember when ocelots were fashionable as house pets?

It never seemed like a great idea, in my opinion.

Before running out to bring home an ocelot, follow this link.)


The photos above were taken by William Claxton, a renowned photographer who passed away earlier this month, at the age of 80.

Claxton began his professional career in the 1950's, and became best known for his portraits of jazz musicians and other entertainers, as well as his images of fashion design.

Follow links to:
- An obituary for William Claxton, from The New York Times

- Official William Claxton Website, including biography, portfolio, and Quicktime video interview segments.

'William Claxton: Photographic Memory' at The Digital Journalist. Includes biography and photo gallery.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Halloween Podcast return(ed) from the dead

Oh, that's right - - Halloween is upon us. Almost didn't notice.

Speaking of almost not noticing, is there an election coming up? I thought I might have heard something the other day.

I guess I'd better investigate. Might be important...

No, but seriously: Halloween.

I dug out a special spooky Halloween show that I programmed a couple of years back for Radio Boise.

Not many people (if any) heard it back then, so I thought I'd prop it up here, just for a limited time, you understand.

It's an ungainly huge audio stream - - a couple of hours long - - but it's loaded with strange and creepy and off-the-wall music and stories that might help with your Halloween mood or festivities.

It's also been stripped of the station I.D.s and other announcements, so at this point it plays more like a mixtape, I guess.

- Here's a playlist.

Enjoy, and have a great holiday!

- Click here to listen to a prohibitively long In Crowd Halloween podcast!

- UPDATE, : Halloween's gone from these parts for now, but if you're still curious, take a look around hereabouts, over in the audio annex.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Arthur Askey - Before Your Very Eyes (1976)

Much appreciation to Tim at Contrast Podcast for sending along this digitized LP.

"Ay-Thang-Yew!"

Please investigate Contrast Podcast if you haven't already.
It's a weekly podcast from the UK. Every week folks from all over send in a musical track relating to whatever the chosen theme is for that show, and they include a spoken introduction to help set the scene.

I've been having fun contributing a track on a fairly regular basis since the end of July.
You can also join in the fun...

Liverpudlian comedian Arthur Askey (1900 - 1982) was an institution of the British entertainment industry for decades.

He came up through the music halls in the early part of the 20th century, and performed for troops while in service during World War I.

Askey starred in the first sitcom to be broadcast on BBC radio, and was also featured in programming on the earliest form of BBC television broadcasts in the 1930's.

Several film appearances followed in the 1940's, and he became a staple of British TV from the 1950s into the '70s - - all in addition to his recording career.

On this album recorded in 1976, Askey reprised many of his most popular old songs.
Their silliness mixed with his charming delivery and the longevity of his career, giving Arthur Askey a multi-generational appeal.

From the LP
'Before Your Very Eyes'
(Argo Records, 1976),
Listen to Arthur Askey, with
Alan Cohen and his orchestra and Chris Hazell, piano:

All to Specification
The Bee Song
The Christening
Chirrup Chirrup
The Villain Still Persued Her
The Seagull
The Moth Song
The Budgerigar
The Seaside Band
Knitting
Fighting With the Foreign Legion
The Pixie
The Worm
A Ballad (I Love The Swallows Flying By)
The Death Watch Beetle
Big Hearted Arthur

(click for audio)

- - OR download all 16 tracks in one 85.8 Mb zipfile.

- Click here to see back cover liner notes in a new window

See also:
- A Television Heaven Tribute Page

- As of this writing, several old feature-length Arthur Askey films are available
for online viewing at Veoh.Com.
(Setting up a free account may be required to view them in their entirety.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rudy Ray Moore has left us (1927 - 2008)

(Reposted from 'Brief Window')

Comedy and film legend
Rudy Ray Moore is gone, and
so an era ends.

Regardless of what place
Rudy Ray Moore held in your life, there was no one else quite like him.

- Read the Los Angeles Times obituary.

Moore began releasing adult comedy records in the 1960s, coming into a market that had been around for a while, but was reaching new 'heights' of rudeness with other comedians emulating the styles of Redd Foxx or Richard Pryor.

Whether appearing under his own name or as his alter-ego Dolemite, Moore's efforts often out-did them all - - at least when it comes to explicit content.

In the 1970s he became a bad-ass action hero in a series of films that are nothing if not memorable.

"Put yo' weight on it!"

I always particularly enjoyed his fighting skills...

NOTE: NSFW!
In NO WAY are these collected video clips of Dolemite film trailers to be considered safe for work!

Below, ▼ from 1975's 'Dolemite'...



- - from 'The Human Tornado' in 1977... ▼



- - and ▼ 'Disco Godfather' from 1980.


(NOTE: Please leave a comment if you discover dead video links. Thanks.)

See also:
- A bio page at the Official Rudy Ray Moore Website

- Some of his Original Rhymes and 'Toasts' at
Dolemite Dot Com

- You can listen to his 'Sweet Peter Jeeter' &
'The Cockpit' albums at Kliph Nesterhoff's
Classic Television Showbiz

Linger Over Nescafé: 1956 print ad

It's not just me, right?

Nothing outrageous, but you see it too, right?

Odd perspective, featureless yellow void.

A rugged husband whose look of appreciation or relief at achieving 'coffee hunger' satisfaction looks just slightly unhealthy.

Is it merely a 'warm, good-to-be-alive feeling'?

His eyes are fixed firmly on the coffee pouring, not at all on the woman (his wife, yes?) standing outside the frame.

The kid in the background is so disconnected from the foreground that he may as well be reading his Sunday morning funnies on another planet.

What happened on Saturday night?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cliff Edwards as the voice of Jiminy Cricket - I'm No Fool (circa 1955)

Here's a well worn old kiddie record, a 6-inch, 78 rpm orange disc, the old 'Little Golden Record' format.

◀ (Click on image to view outer sleeve ENLARGED in a new window)

On Side A, Jiminy Cricket sings his 'Safety Song', just as he did in several educational cartoons that aired on TV's 'Mickey Mouse Club' show, beginning in 1955.

- Follow link to a list of the different 'I'm No Fool' educational cartoons at The Big
Cartoon DataBase
.


Listen to:
Cliff Edwards as the voice of Jiminy Cricket, w/ the Merry Mouseketeers, chorus & orchestra -
I'm No Fool

(Little Golden Record 6" 78, circa 1955)
(click for audio)

Side B features a quick, no-frills 'round', sans Cricket...

Listen to:
Frances Archer, Beverly Gile, Merry Mouseketeers, chorus & orchestra -
Frere Jacques

(Little Golden Record 6" 78, circa 1955)
(click for audio)


- Click here for the outer sleeve's back cover text, with a roster of other Mickey Mouse Club records in the series.

Cliff Edwards (1895 - 1971) originated the voice of Jiminy Cricket for 1940's 'Pinnochio', and continued in the voice role until the 1960s.

Though he was uncredited in the film, the role helped to revive his career, which had been in decline since the depression.

In the 1950s, his return to the role on TV would do so again,
for a time.

During the 1920s and into the early '30s, Cliff Edwards, a.k.a. 'Ukulele Ike' had been a Genuine Super Star as a recording artist, and on stage and screen.

His flair for jazzy scat singing, crooning and vocal 'tromnet' influenced many, and it was quite likely his use of the ukulele that helped make the instrument a staple of the era.

By the latter-half of the 1930s though, problems with money and problems with substance abuse and high-living began a roller-coaster of ups and downs that would follow him through the rest of his life, which ended, sadly, in obscurity.

See also:
- The Red Hot Jazz Archive has many fine archived vintage Cliff Edwards recordings.
(audio requires RealPlayer)

- Assorted other Cliff Edwards recordings at the Internet Archive
If you've never heard Ukulele Ike, you must investigate.

- Follow link to a video clip of Edwards, performing 'Hang On To Me' from a curious 1935 short,
'Starlit Days At The Lido'
, filmed in an early Technicolor process.

- Other 'Cliff Edwards - Ukulele Ike search results at YouTube.

Below, ▼ one of the 'I'm no Fool' segments from TV...

Friday, October 17, 2008

1958 Air-Wick print ad: The odor of cultural stereotypes

This advertisement for home deodorizers appeared in American magazines in 1958.

(click on image to ENLARGE in a new window)

Perhaps there's a message in this advertisement that's telling us how alike we are all over the world, but it gets just a bit muddled somehow.

In addition to polite statements of departure masking more critical sentiments, it's a bit curious that no one else at these gatherings seems troubled by any unpleasant odor.

Also worth noting is the notion that (unlike the 'Romance' languages shown) spoken Japanese apparently translates to broken English.

Reasons To Be Cheerful: week of 10/17/08

(This is a compiled repost of items culled from my soon-to-be-extinct subsidiary blog, 'Brief Window')

1. Leif Peng at Today's Inspiration has put up a great string of posts looking at the work of David Stone Martin, the American artist / illustrator responsible for so many classic and influential album covers, primarily in the jazz vein, primarily in the 1950s and '60s.

Click over to:
- David Stone Martin: For the Record
- David Stone Martin: Early Days
- David Stone Martin: Modernism meets Traditionalism

One link included is to Fox Music's David Stone Martin flickr set, which is where the four images posted here were found.

(Via Martin Klasch)

For more DSM, see also:
- The Album Art of David Stone Martin, a list at Rate Your Music
- LP Cover Lover
- Like Wow! Vinyl Culture Quarterly




















2. Composer / Arranger Neal Hefti passed away last Saturday, at the age of 85.

He'd worked with big band leaders like
Woody Herman and Count Basie in the 1940s and '50s, as well as many other top names.

Hefti segued into scoring for movies and television in the '60s, which is where he'd said he did his best work.


Most people who lived through that era can instantly recall his themes to 'The Odd Couple' and the '60's incarnation of 'Batman'.

Surfing about the web, a few interesting links turn up that give further insight into the life and work of Neal Hefti - -

Follow links to:
- New York Times obituary
- A profile at Space Age Pop.Com
- A 2004 interview with Neal Hefti, posted at The Robert Farnon Society Website
- Several tracks from Neal Hefti are available at Grabb.it

- The out-of-print LP, 'Hefti in Gotham City', recorded during the height of 'Bat-Mania', is available for download at 'Blog of 999 Dances'

- The 'Hefti in Gotham City' LP included the brassy track 'Gotham City Municipal Swing Band', which for more than a decade became familiar in and around the San Francisco bay area as theme music to 'Creature Features', the local late-night horror movie TV show, hosted for years by Bob Wilkins.









3. The evidence has been around for a while now: Men are the New Women.

- - At least as far as the fashion industry, the cosmetic, personal accessory, personal fragrance industries and certainly the world of advertising are concerned.

Options and a range of choices are a good thing, but not surprisingly it feels like it may only be commerce that's driving it.





"Hmm, what else can we get them to buy?"

How about Pantyhose for Men?

Follow the link above to the 'e-MANcipate!' site, and also check out Manolo's Shoe Blog to learn so much more about 'Mantyhose'.


4. In Walks Plantbot!

It's the planter box that strolls about the room, following the best patches of sunlight.

Imagine several in a small apartment!

Click over to
The Play Coalition for a closer look.

- - And while you're there, take a peek at their other innovative products, like The Subtletie and The Immersion Scarf.
Pretty tricky... (Via Neatorama)

5. Click over to
The Advertising Artwork of Dr. Seuss,
and see some of what Ted Geisel was up to
when he wasn't creating children's books...


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Melvin Monster comics round-up

(Reposted from 'Brief Window')

Prolific and beloved comic book auteur John Stanley, creator of Little Lulu, introduced Melvin Monster in a Dell Comics series back in 1965.

Melvin was a kid monster who, despite the wishes of his parents ('Mummy and Baddy') was not so terribly interested in doing monstrous things - - though (like a certain friendly ghost) some people were not entirely convinced. Another outsider hero, a lovable misanthrope.

Magic Carpet Burn has recently posted the entire story from Melvin Monster #10 (an exact reprint of '65's issue #1) for us to enjoy, divided into its chapters.

- Follow links to:

Part 1: Like A Little Monster Shouldn't

Part 2: Teacher's Patsy

Part 3: Human Being Land

Part 4: A Home Away From Home

Part 5: The Collector




There are several spots around the web that have also been kind enough to post other exploits of Melvin and Company, in addition to those who focused on Melvin as a topic of discussion...

Follow links to:

- 'Crazy Klutch', from issue #5 at
Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine.

- 'Supermonster', from issue #8, reprinted at
the 'Stanley Stories' blog.
The post includes an examination of the character dynamics found in the series.

- Furthering such an examination,
'A very normal family', posted at headsOnBoards in Joyville compares and contrasts Melvin and other 1960's monster humor comics, such as Mr. and Mrs. J.Evil Scientist,
The Little Monsters, and Oona Goosepimple.
Many links are provided (including some you see here).

- A synopsis of issue #4 at Scott Shaw's Oddball Comics.

- A remembrance of Melvin at Til the Last Hemlock Dies.

- Drawn & Quarterly Comics have announced plans for
a series of John Stanley reprint books
.
As of this writing, that series should begin appearing next year, starting with a Melvin Monster collection, scheduled to show up sometime around May.

Freshly-stirred links