Friday, November 28, 2008

Reasons To Be Cheerful: week of 11/28/08

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

1. Three funny Hulk transformations

"Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

That was the warning given by Bill Bixby in the role of Dr. David Banner in old TV episodes of 'The Incredible Hulk'.

Except of course, our reason for tuning in was to watch him get angry and 'Hulk Out', transforming into Lou Ferrigno so he could rampage properly.

Thanks to Cotton Whiskers UK for posting three interesting transformation sequences to YouTube. (Found via Bob Cesca's
Awesome Blog!
, via Servo3000.)

It's good to see evidence that the cast and creators of the show didn't always take things too seriously.

The first two transformations below are triggered by fairly mundane frustrations with which most folks can relate (though maybe it's been a while in the case of the payphone)...

Understated comedy gold, executed perfectly by the late Mr. Bixby.

In the last video clip, the trigger for the transformation is definitely not something most (living) people can relate to their own experience, nor is the change itself very comedic. The payoff comes at the end, perhaps disproving an adage from a different classic TV show, "It's not the thing you fling,
it's the fling itself".

- You can watch full episodes of "The Incredible Hulk" at Hulu

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

2. Play the Album Cover Quiz Game!

Click over to The Quietus.Com for a bit of fun as you test your pop culture recall with their
Album Cover Quiz Game.

As you watch short video clips of M. Mattius Kaufman and a cohort from The Paris Conservatory of Contemporary Mime and Interpretive Dance act out iconic cover images to 29 pop albums you're given 30 seconds to type in the title of each one.

A clever and maddening brain teaser. A few are easy, several are not, a few would be easy - - if only you could remember the exact title of that popular record, a few might be from records you've never seen...

I found also that a few of the poses were instantly familiar, but I just couldn't quite translate them in my head to recall the album cover image.

- Follow link to The Quietus' Album Cover Quiz Game.

Check it out, see how you score, compare your score with others!

3. Submitted for your approval: Steve Carell & Clive Owen, a casting suggestion

I recently sat through the movie preview for 'Duplicity' again - - an upcoming spy caper/con artist/romance thing starring Julia Roberts and
Clive Owen (with Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson dutifully chewing up scenery, from the looks of it).

Looking at Clive Owen in a slightly different setting, at several points I find myself struck by a resemblance he bears to comic actor Steve Carell.

Nothing overt, nothing I'd noticed before, and perhaps a notion that wouldn't exist outside of the 'Duplicity' preview - - But it got me to thinking that perhaps down the line film producers might want to explore the idea of casting them as brothers, or half-brothers or some such.

It might be an opportunity for either actor to avoid some
type-casting, or it might make a selling point for a future ill-advised sequel to Carell's 'Get Smart' remake.

Agent 86 confronts his more successful and competent brother, a spy from another office. Will they clash or cooperate? And will they both learn something in the process?

Just for fun and to perhaps drive home my argument, I stopped by and blended the faces of the two actors together.

◀ Meet 'Cleve Cowrellwynn'.

Click over to MorphThing - -
(Morph Faces and Celebrities Online... For Free!)

- - Play around and enjoy creating your own ridiculous premises and possibilities...

4. Click over to Cracked.Com for an amusing and educational look at International Cinema:

'9 Foreign Rip-Offs Cooler Than The Hollywood Originals'

Prepare to be awe-stricken as you learn more about the Turkish Batman and the Italian Batman, the Turkish E.T. and the Chinese Popeye, the Soviet Winnie The Pooh, the Indian Superman, and others.

Good details and plenty of memorable video clips.

Check it out!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Nicolas Bentley illustrations for Lawrence Durrell's 'Stiff Upper Lip', circa 1958

This post is a follow-up to a previously posted 'round-up' roster of artwork by British illustrator-cartoonist Nicolas Bentley.

(click on images to ENLARGE in a new window)

"Nicolas Bentley drew the pictures" was a customary credit for Bentley, as was the case here with author Lawrence Durrell's book, 'Stiff Upper Lip'.

First published in 1958, it was Durrell's second collection of 'Antrobus' stories - - Humorous tales inspired by his years with Britain's diplomatic corps.
(See also: Inventions of Spring, "An Introduction to the life and work of Lawrence Durrell".)

This paperback copy is a 1971 reprint of an edition first published by Faber in 1966.
(An image of the cover from an undated hardback edition appears at the bottom of this post)

At right, ▶ cover art from a hard-bound edition.

For more information about Nicolas Bentley, see previous post; 'Nicolas Bentley illustrations web round-up', or click over to the Wikipedia entry.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Rumblers - It's A Gas b/w Tootnanny (1963)

The Rumblers were a significant (if relatively short-lived) instrumental R&B band with a tough twang that originated in Norwalk, California in the early 1960s.

Coinciding with early popularity of the 'surf' music sound, several of their recordings for the Downey record label were purchased and simultaneously released on the larger Dot label.

(Looks like the titles for 'It's A Gass' and 'Tootenanny' received different spellings from the different labels)

Band lineup on this 45:

Mike Kelishes - guitar
Johnny Kirkland - guitar
Wayne Matteson - bass
Bob Jones and/or Rex Delong - sax
Greg Crowner - drums

Listen to:
The Rumblers - It's A Gas
(Dot Records 45, 1963)
(click for audio)

Listen to:
The Rumblers - Tootnanny
(Dot Records 45, 1963)
(click for audio)

- Thanks to Rumblers discographies from Soulful Kinda Music and Wang Dang Dula for info.

- While their music is currently out of print, as of this writing you can find more Rumblers tracks at Boppeslag.

- You can read a bit more about the Downey record label at
Ace Records and in a nice remembrance written by Downey, California native and Rumblers fan Dave Alvin (of The Blasters) at the Yep Roc Records site.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

He's proud of his bird

(click on image to ENLARGE in a new window)

This page from the January, 1965 issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine caught my eye the other day, as we once again approach full immersion in the holiday gluttony and familial anxiety season.

(Sorry, it appears that this time around it's a 'Bah Humbug' year for me. I'll get over it - - maybe even before January)

This being the internet, I felt obligated to take a stab at fishing for more info on turkey-stuffer Harvey Beffa.

Lo and behold, I was able to find photos of Mr. Beffa at a History of Falstaff Beer web page (and the accompanying 'Galveston Brewery Tour' page).

Seems Harv was a VP at Falstaff in the 1950's.

Learn something new every day...

Monday, November 17, 2008

(link:) Shuck & Jive? - - 'Are You Free' to help identify a Mystery Track?

It's a music mystery, and our help is needed to solve it!

On her blog, Pop Music As Pornography, Shelley (Music Director and 'Shuffle Function' DJ at Minnesota State University, Mankato's KMSU FM) relates a tale about scoring a big batch of old LPs that has a familiar ring as the sort of 'fishing' story that record collector nerds all have told at one time or another.

In 'We Need Your Help With This Mystery Track, Music Geeks' she writes about one mysterious unmarked album among the others...

"In one of the crates I found a test pressing album hand dated for '4-22-74'.
"The record was recorded for the Keysor-Century Corporation, and has a number assigned to it: - 42415.

"That is the only form of identification that I can find, all though there are numbers etched into the record itself.
"I share all of this information with you because I am desperate to find out who the band is on the record."

Shelley has included a 'movie clip' of one catchy, untitled track off of the mystery test pressing, and talks of her fruitless search to identify the unnamed band.

Giving it a listen, I agree with some of her assessment; The band sounds very familiar, and to my ear the mid-'70's sound seems very West Coast.

It made me think of a slightly less latin El Chicano or Malo, a less brass, more organ-based
Tower of Power perhaps, and the lead vocal reminds me of the Steve Miller Band before they hit the arena rock years.

It also sounds exactly like the sort of thing that once solved, we'll all say, 'Oh, of course! How obvious, why couldn't I figure that out?'

- - But for now, who knows? Not me, but what about you?

Click over, take a listen.
No record collector geek should have to suffer through such a thing alone...

- - ▼ and here's the lyrics ▼ to the mystery song, ring any bells for you??

Can you climb a mountain
When you want?
Can you tell a story
When you want?

Are you free?
Are you free?
Free to do what you want when you want,
Are you free to say 'no' when you choose?

Do you shuck and jive
All the time
On a steady high (getting high)
All the time

Are you free? Tell me now,
Are you free?
Free to do what you want when you want,
Are you free to say 'no' when you choose?

Do you shuck and jive
All the time
On a steady high (getting high)
All the time

Are you free? Tell me now - -
Are you free?
Free to do what you want when you want,
Are you free to say 'no' when you choose?

Free to do what you want when you want,
Are you free to say 'no' when you choose?

Free to do what you want when you want,
Are you free to say 'no' when you choose?

UPDATE, 8.24.09: Thanks to a commenter who cracked the mystery!
It spurred me to check in at the Shuffle Function blog to verify that they too had tumbled to the identity of the mystery band.

- Follow this link to their 7.05.09 post, 'Case Closed' and read the story and a bit about the band Haze from Minneapolis, and their eponymous 1974 LP!

Scholastic Book Gallery update! (flickr link)

Taking just a moment to direct you over to a gallery of images I posted at flickr and first linked to here at ILTS about fourteen months ago...

- Please follow link to my flickr set: Nostalgia for the Scholastic Book Club of the '60s & '70s

Since posting that set I've received nice feedback from time to time from folks who remember reading some of those books and others like them via The Scholastic Book Club back when they were kids.

I've updated the gallery a few times over the months, as I'll stumble upon more of these old titles in thrift shops and used book stores.

Today I just added 39 more images of book covers and illustrations, bringing the current total of the set up to 226.

The timing seemed right, as traffic to the flickr set spiked dramatically over the past few days, since being linked to in a post over at Boing Boing last Thursday.

Crazily, tens of thousands of people looked at the set over the weekend, and the sudden additional feedback has been most gratifying.

Many thanks to BB's Mark Fraunfelder, and to several other sites that have since picked up on it, including the
On Our Minds @ Scholastic blog from The Scholastic Book Club itself, still very much alive and well, and still generating excitement in the classroom!

- The scans in this post are a sampling of the new images just added to
my flickr set:
Nostalgia for the
Scholastic Book Club
of the '60s & '70s

(click on link)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Reasons To Be Cheerful: week of 11/14/08

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

1. Celebrating the life of Miriam Makeba.

Miriam Makeba passed away this week,
at age 76.

The legendary South African singer / social activist collapsed suddenly, immediately after a concert performance in Southern Italy.

Follow links to obituaries for her from the
Associated Press and Times Online.

Click over to You Tube to see video of Miriam Makeba in performance, or to
to hear some of her music.

2. Tony Dow sez: “Having something shown at the Louvre is about as good as you can get”

'Gee Wally, d'you really think so?'

Have you heard the exciting news?

Former child-star Tony Dow, now 63, the quintessential big brother of the classic TV sitcom 'Leave It To Beaver', has a sculpture that will be on display next month at the Louvre.

His abstract bronze figure,
'Unarmed Warrior' has been named as part of a juried group of pieces that will be shown in the historic Paris museum from December 11th - 14th as part of the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts exhibition.

- Read more about the details of this story from the Associated Press or at the Los Angeles Times site.

It's so very tempting to poke fun at this story - -
as in, 'Finally! The Louvre is getting smart about building a reputation for itself!'

- - But really, it seems like any light-hearted joking about
'Wally Cleaver, the bigshot artist' takes second-place to the simple thought;

'Think how excited Tony Dow must be right now'.

Dow has pursued many professional careers outside of acting in his life, and has been painting, woodworking, and sculpting for many years.

- You can see more of his bronze works at the website for the Karen Lynne Gallery in Beverly Hills.

3. Just now tumbled to
'Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog'

Okay, by now it's old news to many who are
up-to-date on just this sort of thing, but if
- - like me - - you've been cruising along unaware of the online musical super-hero film
'Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog', you may want to click over now and check it out. Big fun!

'Buffy' auteur Joss Whedon is behind the
action-comedy-romance, initially intended for internet-only distribution.

Neil Patrick Harris is perfectly cast as an
'up & coming' super-villain out to prove himself, who is also harboring a secret crush on the girl he's seen at the laundromat.

The musical numbers are well suited to NPH's Stephen Sondheim credentials.

After a few months of advance promotion, the 43-minute film premiered online in July of 2008, initially serialized into three separate acts.

This charming little movie benefits from its low budget, and is also an interesting experiment in crafty distribution.

Follow the link to the Wikipedia entry to learn more of the story behind the movie, and about its creators and cast.

Currently it streams for free at Hulu. Go watch it!

You can also watch 'Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog' at the official website, where there's lots of other background material, links to soundtrack downloads, and info about the soon-to-be-released DVD edition, which is said to include lots of extras, including singing commentary - - ?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Louis Prima - A Spoonful of Sugar b/w Stay Awake (1965)

Singer-trumpeter-band leader-lounge king Louis Prima had several distinct career arcs during his long career.

When this 45 was released in 1965, Prima's downward slope from the pinnacle of his Vegas years had begun, though it's doubtful that you could have told him that at the time.

In '63, he'd married singer Gia Maione, his fifth wife, who'd joined his band the year before, following the departure of Keely Smith, his previous wife and singing partner.

In '64, as he and Maione were starting a family together, Louis founded his own independent recording label, Prima Records.

This 45, capitalizing on the recent success of Disney's film, 'Mary Poppins' was released on the Prima label, but a deal was struck to release the LP 'Let's Fly With Mary Poppins' (recorded with Maione and Prima's backing band, Sam Butera and the Witnesses) on Disney's Buena Vista record label.

Likely that relationship forged with Disney had something to do with their approaching Prima in 1966 to lend his vocal and musical talents to their next upcoming animated feature,
'The Jungle Book'.

Listen to:
Louis Prima - A Spoonful of Sugar
(Prima Records 45, 1965)
(click for audio)

Listen to:
Louis Prima - Stay Awake
(Prima Records 45, 1965)
(click for audio)

See also:
For other Louis Prima 'Mary Poppins' tracks, click over to Covering The Mouse and JeansMusicBlog.

Freshly-stirred links