Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Book Ideas?

I'm debating what topic to write a book about for 2011. I have had some ideas suggested to me but now I will turn it over to you.

For those who don't know, my previous books have been about Harvey Comics (Casper, Richie Rich), TTV (Underdog), "Cracked" (like "Mad") and The Beatles (like The Monkees).

Anyway, I don't really want to do a topic that's been done to death (i.e. Disney), but I have some thoughts that have been suggested like the history of the comic book store and a comedy album review book.

Let me know your thoughts...

There is no prize, but I would like to see if you can jog a concept I haven't thought of yet...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Beatles Monthly Book

I miss "The Beatles Monthly Book". For those who don't know, "The Beatles Monthly Book" was published monthly from 1963-1969 and is the only complete chronicle of The Beatles that happened AS THEY DID IT, which is cool because sometimes they talk about projects that never happened like their third film and their 1968 concert at the Roundhouse.

In 1976, the publication was reprinted month-to-month through 1982 and then continued as a new publication until 2003 and finally ended with issue #321. Even though there are other Beatles magazines and of course, you can find info on the Internet, I miss this publication and wish that someone else could revive it.

Fortunately, "Beatlefan" continues on....

Above is a picture of the first 40 or so issues of "The Beatles Monthly Book"...

Monday, June 28, 2010

DEVO is Back!!!

It's not like they really went anywhere as the members of DEVO turn up every so often either in concert or on a soundtrack album track, but "Something For Everybody" is the first new DEVO album since "DEV2.0" from 2006 and the first album of all new material since 1994's "Smooth Noodle Maps".

I have heard the lead off track called "Fresh" and it is very good. It reminds me of "That's Good", and that's good! It probably won't do anything on the charts as DEVO was and is forever linked to "Whip It" and "Jocko Homo" (aka "Are we not men? We are DEVO"). Too bad, as DEVO is a much more talented act than they're ever given credit for.

So, forget the critics and the fair weather fans, just go buy's sure to be good!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Frank Frazetta Art in "The Jerk"

I was watching Steve Martin's "The Jerk" with my friend, Lee Hester of Lee's Comics fame. I have seen the film dozens of times. This was the first time for Lee.

As we were watching, there was a sequence where Navin (Steve Martin) was describing his new mansion complete with the artwork. One of the pieces looked suspiciously like a painting by Frank Frazetta. Now it is not certain whether the painting in "The Jerk" is indeed a Frazetta, but it is definitely inspired by the cover painting that was by Frazetta used on the cover of "Eerie" #3.

Here is a screen capture from "The Jerk" and then here is the cover to "Eerie". Let me know what you this a Frazetta original or a distinct rip-off?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I Met Steve Wozniak

He was at the Music in the Park in San Jose on Thursday evening riding his Segway. I politely went up to him and asked him for his autograph and this is what I got: "Woz". He's a good guy and I really liked him on "Dancing With the Stars" a couple of years ago.

I wonder what else he's done...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"America's Got Talent" and "The Gong Show"

I'm not a huge fan of "reality" shows, but I make an exception for a couple of them like "Dancing With the Stars" and "America's Got Talent".

I like "Dancing With the Stars" mainly for the goofy "stars" they sometimes get like Buzz Aldrin or Penn Jillette, and overall it's pretty fun and less annoying to me than "American Idol".

I like "America's Got Talent" better because sometimes you really see something you've never seen before or even if you have, you sometimes see something done better than you've seen before.

Of course, they also have a LOT of crap acts. Sometimes I think they make them up sort of like when they had Gene-Gene the Dancing Machine come out on the old "Gong Show".

Which brings me to my next point. I would like to see a revival of "The Gong Show" or something similar. The reason why is that I loved the mixture of good acts and crap acts. The problem with "America's Got Talent" is after the initial weeding out, you get only the good acts and they appear over and over and over. With "The Gong Show", they only had their one shot and the most popular act won. Of course, also with "The Gong Show" they had a pittance for a prize, so they could revise it with a decent amount.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

USA Advances in World Cup

It's kind of funny. I'm not a huge sports guy, and I'm certainly not a soccer or football guy. However, sometimes it is fun to get caught up in the mania that is the World Cup, partially because it's only played every four years.

I do the same thing whenever the Olympics happens. I think it's because of the infrequency of it all. Also, I currently work in a company that supports Mexican-based companies, so the World Cup is really important to them. When Mexico won 2-0 against France the other day, it was bedlam in the office.

Today, USA made a surprise game-end goal that advances them to the next level. The man above, Landon Donovan, made the play and is now the hero for the moment. Afterwards, I jokingly said it would be funny if it was USA vs. Mexico for the final game. Hey, stranger things have happened in sports.

USA usually does lousy in soccer, so for the team to advance at all is a win...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

San Francisco

Spent the day in San Francisco recently doing some of the touristy things, which I do every so often. It was fun. Went across the Golden Gate Bridge. Went down Lombard Street (crookedest street in the world). Went to Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39.

It's good sometimes to do the touristy things in your own area. It's funny because people will travel thousands of miles to do touristy things and ignore the stuff right their own back yard. I've met many a New Yorker who have never been to the Statue of Liberty, for instance.

Of course, I have a fondness for San Francisco anyway. I lived there for 10 years from 1986-1996. I'm not sure I would move back, but it was fun at the time, and since it is so close to me, I can always go back and visit (and I won't get lost)...

Monday, June 21, 2010

My Thoughts on Elvis

I became a belated Elvis fan. My earliest memories of Elvis were the song "Burning Love" when it was a hit in 1972 and they played it on the radio all the time and the 1973 Hawaii Concert.

At the age of 5, I really liked the song, and didn't think too much about the concert, but my mom really liked him.

I didn't think much more about Elvis after that. I suppose I saw him on the cover of some tabloid from time to time, but really didn't connect everything. Then, in 1977 they announced that he died.

I distinctly remember at age 10 saying to my mom when I heard the news on the radio, "I thought he had already died." The reason for my statement had more to do with my attitude about popular music, that if you didn't have big hits when you once did, you must have died. I didn't take into account that someone could have a career slump or fall out of favor or just retire.

So, with Elvis, the last big thing he did was that Hawaii special, because after he died, all the TV specials came out about his life and basically all Elvis did after 1973 was record a few more so-so charting songs, tour endlessly in areas I didn't live (I lived then as I do now in Saratoga, CA, near San Jose) and get fat.

Being a huge Beatles fan, I tried to like Elvis. Sure, there were a few tunes I liked like "Hound Dog", but the biggest problem with me being an Elvis fan was one of accessibility to his music. It must have been the most frustrating thing in the world to be an Elvis fan while he was alive, if you wanted to get a single copy of every song he recorded.

Unlike most singers and musicians, rarely would tracks repeat from album to album and usually only if an album is designated a "Greatest Hits" compilation. With Elvis, no real rhyme or reason existed with his albums. After I became a fan (which was about 10-15 years ago), I realized that Elvis albums never had his hit singles on them. The hit singles were compiled into hits collections. Later one, Elvis abandoned the album idea in favor of soundtracks, and this is where the fun really begins.

With the soundtracks, sometimes you would get lucky with all the songs from the movie on the soundtrack, but most of the time, they would fill the albums with either new tracks or repeat album tracks or some sort of leftovers.

Still later, Elvis would issue new albums again, but there would be budget-line compilations featuring lame songs from his soundtracks and a couple of hits, to get you to buy it. There usually would be no designator as to whether the new Elvis album was really new or just a garbage compilation.

The ultimate in absurdity was with the aforementioned "Burning Love", a hit single from 1972. You would think a song like this would headline a brand new album of brand new material. No such luck. Apart from "Burning Love" and its b-side, the "Burning Love" album was replete with more movie soundtrack leftovers.

THIS is why I never liked Elvis. Finally, box sets were made to correct the problem so that if you just wanted all of Elvis' in studio recordings, you would need to purchase the 50s, 60s and 70s boxes, a complete Christmas compilation, a complete Gospel compilation and if you desired, the various movie soundtrack two-fers.

With that, you get about 98% of what Elvis recorded in his lifetime. The only downside is with the 70s set, which leaves off quite a few of the studio recordings Elvis did from 1970-77, so you have to resort to a lot of out of print compilations to get those missing tracks as the 70s box has kind of replaced all of those other albums.

Unfortunately, the situation isn't about to change as the 70s material is much maligned and so a proper complete compilation isn't anywhere on the horizon.

But if 1954-1969 Elvis is what you're after, it is very complete.

Anyway, with proper repackaging, I can now reevaluate Elvis and realized that he had talent, but his recordings were mismanaged into "product". Had they taken more care to issue proper albums, Elvis might have even been bigger than he already is or was.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cheap "Davey and Goliath" DVDs

If you have a Dollar Tree by your house, take a look at the four volume set of "Davey and Goliath" DVDs. Even though it is not the complete series by any means, each volume is only a buck and has some of the best ones.

For those who didn't know "Davey and Goliath" was produced by Art Clokey, the same guy responsible for "Gumby" who just passed away recently. They have that same "Gumby" look about them, but certainly are not surreal for the most part.

Of course you'll have to be willing to accept listening to a moral lesson with many mentions of God and Jesus. If you're willing to do that, then these old claymation episodes are fun.

The amazing thing that I didn't know was who the voice talent was on these. Davey was voiced by Dick Beals on the earlier episodes and Norma MacMillan on the later ones. Goliath the dog was by Hal Smith.

Anyway, these were fun when I was a kid and still fun today. There was even a parody series called "Moral Orel".

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Yesterday was Paul McCartney's 68th Birthday

What an old fart!

I always malign Paul, but I really love him as with all The Beatles. Anyway, I do also always complain that Paul has about 12 albums worth of good unreleased material that I guess he's waiting until after he dies to release.

Bob Dylan is doing it correctly. He occasionally releases a new album and in between these new releases has been releasing his multi-volume bootleg series.

McCartney is on tour again. I would love to see him, but don't have the money. Fortunately, I have seen him on at least four other occasions as far back as 1989, so I'm not hurting to see him.

McCartney now is kinda like Sinatra was in his latter years; you see him to say you saw him, not because of any relevant new material he has put out. In fact the older the song, the better for most people attending his concerts. McCartney hasn't gotten as doddering as Sinatra yet where he needs a teleprompter for help with the lyrics, but give him time...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Powell's Candy Shop

I'll give a plug to one of my favorite candy stores, Powell's. There are a few things about Powell's that make it very appealing.

First, they play candy-related music while you are shopping. Second, they have a lot of candy for sale that you don't think exists anymore like Zagnut or Mary Jane or Sen-Sen, among others.

But the piece de resistance (at least in the Los Gatos, CA location) is the continuous playing of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" in the back of the store, complete with four movie theater seats.

I thought there were only two locations and didn't know they were a franchisee. The first one opened in Windsor, CA (near Santa Rosa). There's still not that many locations. There's 14 in California, one in Colorado, one in Idaho and one in Oregon. You can check them out at the web at Powell's Sweet Shoppe.

Maybe tomorrow I will talk about Psycho Donuts...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Three Stooges Nobody Likes

So I finished volume 8 of "The Three Stooges Collection" and have come to the conclusion that the three men pictured above always get a bum deal when it comes to Three Stooges fans.

Originally, I was going to call this column "In Defense of Joe Besser" (center) because after re-watching his shorts for the first time in over 30 years, I realize that they are not that bad. There were a couple of bum ones, but certainly they tried harder with these 16 shorts from 1957-59, than the latter day Shemp ones from 1953-1956, where they depended too heavily on stock footage. And "gay" Joe Besser is fine with me, because Moe needs to be socked once in a while. Yapple Dapple!

Joe DeRita (right) is my least favorite Stooge, but he was the right man for the job for the time. I don't think that Larry and Moe could handle someone like a Curly as they entered into their 60s and 70s, as they were slowing down, so Curly-Joe's easy-going "Buddy Boy" style was perfect for their more laid back 60s films. (BTW, when IS "Have Rocket, Will Travel" coming out on DVD, anyway?)

My favorite Stooge is Shemp (left). My favorite Stooges short is "Brideless Groom". Don't get me wrong, because I love Curly, Moe and Larry as well, but there's something about Shemp that just makes me laugh no matter what he does, even when he's not with the Stooges. (See "Africa Screams" with Abbott & Costello (and Joe Besser) to see what I mean.)

As a result, I feel the best years for Stooges comedies was 1947-49 for their overall consistency and humor. Shorts like "Who Done it?" and "Malice in the Palace" are among my favorites.

With Curly a lot of times, the short was only as good as he was, and so sometimes the short failed on those terms, but I love things like "Micro-Phonies" and "Dizzy Pilots" among many, many others. (BTW, can anyone tell me if Curly's cameo footage in "Malice in the Palace" still exists besides photos?)

Anyway, cheers to the SIX Stooges...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Craig Yoe...Again?!?

I'm just going to rip off Jerry Beck's line from Cartoon Brew about this book: "Another day, another amazing book from Craig Yoe". Actually, I have been anticipating this book quite a lot longer than many of Yoe's other books and perhaps it took longer to come out due to scheduling difficulties or copyright clearances.

Whatever the case, "Krazy Kool Kids Komics" is here, and is an excellent companion piece for Art Spiegelman's "Toon Treasury of Classic Children's Comics" (except still no Harvey...cry). Yoe's book exposes the seamier underside or stranger subjects of "children's comics", in that there are for more original characters and situations than in Spiegelman's book. Spiegelman's tends to focus more, but not completely, on licensed characters.

Fortunately, there are no repeats in sight and both give credits where due. Sadly, Howard Post and Frank Frazetta who are both represented in the book, have since passed away, leaving Jules Feiffer as about the only sole surviving featured artist from the Golden Age in the book.

Another excellent feature is completing the story for Dr. Seuss' "Hejji" comic strip. I never knew it was incomplete. For those purists who don't want it tampered with, just don't read the ending.

And Yoe, that sneaky son of a gun, sneaks in one of the "Big Boy" stories that he helped publish. Of course, it helped that he got someone like Steve Ditko among others to help him out...

What else can I say about it? Just go and buy it and read it and discover that there has been more than superheroes out there in comic books...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Two More Classic Movies

I went back to the Stanford Theater and saw two more classic movies. These were more in the suspense department and both reminded me of Hitchcock at his best.

The first was "The Spiral Staircase" (1945) starring Dorothy McGuire (best known as the mother in many Disney films like "Old Yeller" and "Swiss Family Robinson"). Here she plays a mute troubled by some malady that keeps her from speaking. Of course, as is typical for all of these types of movies, there's murder going on and she suddenly finds her voice at the appropriate time.

It is very well done and also stars George Brent, Ethel Barrymore and Elsa Lanchester ("Bride of Frankenstein").

The second film "Hangover Square" (1945) stars Laird Cregar, Linda Darnell and George Sanders. Cregar is a song composer who murders when he hears loud noises. It's slightly less good than "Spiral", but still riveting and has another great ending.

If you want to purchase these on DVD, "The Spiral Staircase" is available separately, while "Hangover Square" is part of the "Fox Horror Classics Collection" along with "The Lodger" and "The Undying Monster".

Monday, June 14, 2010

Willy Wonka's Golden Ticket

Above is an image of the Quaker version of "Willy Wonka's Golden Ticket". I've had this since the movie came out in 1971. Not sure if I got it out of a Quaker brand cereal or at Burger Chef or out of a Wonka candy or at the theater.

I have asked for years whether this interpretation of Willy Wonka as pictured on the ticket was designed by the Jay Ward staff, and no one, including Charles Ulrich and Keith Scott (Jay Ward experts) has accepted that this was his design, despite the fact that there is a Quaker produced Wonka press kit that pictures Wonka alongside Cap'n Crunch and crew, Quangaroo, Quisp, Quake and King Vitaman.

The ticket is one of my prized possessions. I never did order the "Candy Factory Kit" as advertised on the reverse side, despite the fact that it's something I SHOULD have in my collection. I've had the opportunity to purchase one many times, just never have.

Anyway, for those who don't know, "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" is my favorite movie of all time. Some people say, "I like it better than the more recent version with Johnny Depp," to which I reply, "What recent version?"

It's sort of a joke, but there is some truth to it. There was only ONE "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory". The atrocity referred to that stars Johnny Depp and directed by Tim Burton, is called "CHARLIE and the Chocolate Factory" and not "WILLY WONKA and the Chocolate Factory".

Just FYI...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

David Bowie...Retires?

David Bowie announced his retirement recently and I don't know how serious that is. If it is a Johnny Carson-type retirement or a Frank Sinatra-type retirement. In any case, it is a shame because Bowie still looks youthful and hasn't seemed to slow down, but his reasons are sound, that he wants to spend more time with wife, Iman.

Bowie's recent albums ("Eart hl i ng" (1997), "'hours..." (1999), "Heathen" (2002) and "Reality" (2003)) have all been good, especially "Eart hl i ng" and "Heathen". It is too bad that he's calling it a day, but that's the blessing of a great recording career. You can go back and relisten to everything all over again.

I suppose Bowie could go on touring, but maybe he wants to leave everyone with the memory of him being young and youthful and that Ziggy Stardust and the Thin White Duke have no place for a man in his 60s and above.

The picture above is Bowie in 2009 at the Tribeca Film Festival. I hope he changes his mind about retirement, but it is his right, and fortunately, we have his music and his films.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Pez Museum

I went to the Pez Store and Museum today in Burlingame, CA. I have heard about this museum before and had been there many times, but not inside as I always seemed to arrive after they closed.

Anyway, today I went and paid my $3.00 and went inside. It is very small, but very complete and if you are a Pez fan, this is the place you must see. They have virtually every Pez dispenser ever made, including two ultra-rare ones that I want, but are valued way too high, Bullwinkle and Casper.

They also feature older toys in display cases such as Tinkertoys, Colorforms, View-Masters, Lincoln Logs, etc.

Finally, the piece de resistance is the actual Pez sign from the original factory in Austria. I asked the owner about this piece and he said that he bought it off of Ebay!

Incidentally, Ebay got its start because the original owner set up a website so his wife could sell collectible Pez dispensers online. Ebay even acknowledged this by issuing some rare Ebay Pez dispensers at one point. The rest is history.

A must see! Their site is Burlingame Pez Museum!

Friday, June 11, 2010

I Miss "The Far Side"

Sometimes I miss "The Far Side" panel. Above are two of three of some of my favorite "Far Side" panels. The missing one features a cat leaning against a gigantic human tongue with the caption "Cat Showers".

Anyway, at least there's the complete "Far Side" books, to look at again and again, but it's surprising to me that Gary Larson seems to have no interest in continuing this strip or do any other comic strip or book anymore. Strange.

I suppose that's just as well because honestly some "Far Sides" are a bit repetitive or just downright unfunny, especially in the later years. When the strips were new I used to say that it was a "Pizzas in Space" day, when Larson contributed a strange or unfunny gag, but when Larson was "on", he was "ON".

Maybe Gary Larson and Bill Watterson could work on a strip together....

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Stooge Bloopers, Part 2

If you read yesterday's blog, I claimed that I heard a verbal gaffe where Moe calls Larry "Curly" in the film "Of Cash and Hash" (featuring stock footage from "Shivering Sherlocks"). My friend, Joe Torcivia, responded by saying he found no such error:

"I found this to be so curious that I watched "Shivering Sherlocks" and "Of Cash and Hash" back to back. In neither one did I notice the "Curly gaffe". Where exactly in "Of Cash and Hash" does it occur? Pinpoint it for me, and I'd like to check again."

Well folks, even the Mighty Blogmaster here CAN make a MISTAKE. So, I went back to listen to the line in order to tell Joe where it occurs in the film. It happens at the four minute mark, BUT what Moe ACTUALLY says is the word "clearly", but since he didn't speak it so terribly "clearly" to me, it came across as "Curly".

Listen for yourself and let me know what you think....

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Three Stooges Blooper

So, I was happily watching "The Three Stooges Collection, Volume 8: 1955-1959", and was shocked to discover Moe making a verbal error in the short entitled "Of Cash and Hash" which uses ample stock footage from the 1948 short "Shivering Sherlocks", so the error could have originated there.

Somewhere in the conversation, Moe says something to Larry and mistakenly calls him "Curly"! Shemp and Larry seem oblivious to the error and keep talking, while Moe kind of looks down and cringes a little bit at his mistake.

I thought I was hearing things, but played it back, and Moe definitely made the error. Like I said, I don't know if this was new footage or recycled footage. If it was recycled footage, it would make more sense as Curly had just left the group the year before, in 1947. If it was a new error, that seems really sad as by 1955, Curly had been dead for three years.

I tried to find info online and in my books about this blooper and can't seem to find anything. Did I really discover an error that everyone else has always missed?

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

A Joke Becoming Serious

As a joke, I suggested to my friend, the animation expert Jerry Beck, "When is the Looney Tunes collection coming out featuring Cool Cat, Merlin the Magic Mouse, Bunny and Claude and Rapid Rabbit?" After I thought about it a bit, it would make a nifty little DVD package to have featuring these late 60s cartoons from Warner Bros.

Granted, these are NOT the best Looney Tunes ever made, but their quirkiness and inability to make it to the mainstream with the rest of the Looney Tunes sparks my curiosity despite the fact that there weren't too many of them made and scant merchandise made.

Above is a picture of Rapid Rabbit, who was going to headline a series, but ultimately made only one cartoon before Warner Bros. closed its doors on its animation studio for the second time in 1969.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Harvey Merchandise

One of the bizarre things about being a Harvey Comics fan is the wide array of merchandise that's available, but unlike characters such as Mickey Mouse or Snoopy, merchandise featuring Harvey characters like Casper or Richie Rich is relatively rare, in comparison.

Take for example the above item. I have never seen a Casper cookie jar. This was made in the 50s by American Bisque and many other cookie jars were made with Baby Huey, Herman & Katnip, etc. The H&K one is especially rare as one recently sold for over $14,000 in auction!

The interesting thing also about Harvey character collecting is the peaks and valleys about when merchandise appeared. There was a definite peak in the late 50s / early 60s when "Matty's Funday Funnies" and "The New Casper Cartoon Show" appeared. Then another peak in the mid-70s when Harvey seemed to align themselves with a number of organizations like the Boy Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, UNICEF, Apollo 16, etc.
A third peak happened in the early 80s, when a number of items with Richie Rich appeared and yet another peak happened in the mid-90s featuring the remodeled Casper after the movie and TV cartoon series.

At every time, these items were done in limited quantities and most are difficult to find. Probably the easiest piece of Harvey merchandise to find is the Casper board game, as it actually remained in print for over 20 years.

Anyway, it's fun to collect and you never know what you might find next...

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Science Fiction Double Feature

I saw the original "Day the Earth Stood Still" and "It Came From Outer Space" last night at the Stanford Theater. I wasn't planning to go as I have little money at the moment, but was convinced and treated.

Anyway, the two films kind of typify what was good and what was bad about 50s sci-fi (or sci-fi in general). "Earth" is a strong story with generally excellent acting about an alien warning us to mend our war-like ways. It is probably the best science fiction picture of all time. For those who think "Star Wars" or "Star Trek" is, then you don't really know what sci-fi is all about.

"Earth" would have been a good entry for a "Twilight Zone", had it existed back in 1951, and that's my point of what good sci-fi is, a strong intelligent story that makes you think.

So since "Earth" comes across as strong, anything else is bound to be a disappointment. "Space" really tries, but it suffers from some corny dialogue and acting and too many shots of a guy in a rubber suit. It's still a very good film, despite all this, but comes up short especially in comparison to the former film. The story was written by Ray Bradbury.

"Space" would have been a good entry for "The Outer Limits", had it existed back in 1953, so you can tell the difference if you know the difference between those two TV shows.

The funnest part about both films is playing "Spot the future TV Star". "Earth" has Frances Bavier (Aunt Bee from "The Andy Griffith Show") and "Space" has Russell Johnson (Professor from "Gilligan's Island").

Ringo Starr loves "Earth" because he adapted it for the cover of his "Goodnight Vienna" album and the music video for the song "Only You" from the same album. Starr actually used the image above and pasted his head over Klaatu's on the album cover.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

I Love "The Brady Bunch"

I love "The Brady Bunch". Always have. It's a crazy obsession, I know, because creator Sherwood Schwartz has this uncanny knack of making something intrinsically wrong, good.

He also made "Gilligan's Island" a hit for the same reasons. People HATE these shows, yet they are also universally beloved. Why? Because they are FUN, pure and simple.

No one watches a Sherwood Schwartz production to get enlightenment, they watch to laugh. Even if the joke is pure vaudeville, they watch to laugh.

Anyway, I have been watching "The Brady Bunch" and am the tail end of season 5, which is the final season and am loving it. These are episodes I actually watched in their original network airings back in 1973.

I don't know where I'm really going with this blog entry except to say that I wish the rest of the "Brady" and "Gilligan" canon were released to DVD, like the animated shows and the reunion movies and series. I'm pining for more.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Patrick Owsley's Artwork is Great

I have many good friends in the comic book and animation industries and Patrick Owsley is one of them. Patrick is not paying me to write this, nor is he even aware that I'm writing this, but I think he's one of the best artists out there. This is not to slight other good friends of mine (and excellent artists) like Bill Morrison, Mike Kazaleh or Scott Shaw!, etc.

The reason I'm raving is that I decided to have Patrick do a commission for me featuring all of the major Total TeleVision characters' heads. It is similar to what you see above, except that the above features all the major Hanna-Barbera characters from roughly 1957-67. In fact this photo is WHY I decided to go ahead with the commission. I promise to post it once I receive it.

When I was a kid, I would have KILLED for a print like this, featuring all the characters. Now that I'm an adult, I can actually get one personally made-to-order. I remember Hanna-Barbara used to have these little logos that featured all the major characters. These logos appeared on the TV shows during the closing credits and in the comic books. I wanted a complete set of those so badly.

Fortunately, artists like Owsley can recreate these things to order, so if you would like one too, you can contact him at Patrick Owsley Art.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Where are my Color Popeyes on DVD?

A couple of days ago I complained about Tex Avery cartoons not being on DVD. Now, I'm going to complain about "Popeye".

Warner Bros. Home Video was very good about releasing all of the black and white Fleischer "Popeye" cartoons to DVD in three sets. The third set also contained the first Famous Studios "Popeyes" that were also in black and white, which takes us up to 1943.

After 1943 and up to 1957, an additional 108 cartoons were produced in color by Famous Studios that have yet to see the light of day in an OFFICIAL DVD collection. Sure, many of them have been issued in varying quality on various public domain DVDs, the best being the "Popeye the Sailor 75th Anniversary Collectors Edition" from VCI Home Video. This one features the best restorations, plus some commentary by the great animation expert Jerry Beck, but only for 24 of the cartoons. That leaves the other 84 cartoons in limbo and the 24 issued could use an official release from the original negatives.

Why these aren't in release may have to do with the negative treatment the color Famous Studios cartoons have received over the years. While pedestrian in plot, these color ones are still fun and have fluid animation, and are certainly better than any made-for-TV "Popeyes" that succeeded them.

Again, it's Warner Bros. to blame, who have the rights to all of these fine cartoons, but STILL think that there's no market for them, even on their Warner Archives label.

Another shame...

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

"MacGruber" is MacGoober

There have been more movies based on "Saturday Night Live" than any other TV show in the history of television, and I would venture to say that NONE of them are really very good.

Sure, "The Blues Brothers" and "Wayne's World" have their moments, but I really cannot think of any "Saturday Night Live" movie that really is very iconic. Unfortunately, "MacGruber" falls into the same mold. I did find myself laughing in places at "MacGruber", but what made me laugh really had nothing to do with what makes "MacGruber" great on "Saturday Night Live" or even the other show that inspired it "MacGyver".

Part of the charm of "MacGyver" is his ability to make a car run with a bit of chewing gum and dental floss. Things like that.

Part of the charm of the short "MacGruber" shorts is the inability to get these items up and running in time before the inevitable explosion at the end of the skit.

In the "MacGruber" feature, none of these elements are in place. It would have been fun if "MacGruber" tried these exotic fixes and repeatedly FAILED in his Rube Goldberg-like concoctions.

About the funniest thing in the movie is where "MacGruber" FINALLY decides to use force with guns, and when he shoots them, does it so spastically, you have to laugh. Then "MacGruber" tosses the empty guns away (a convention in all shoot-em-ups) and in the next scene, his partner asks, "Where are your guns?"

Not great stuff, but that did make me laugh. Other laughs were more forced and really had nothing to do with anything, and laughing came solely because it was so utterly ridiculous to see a naked grown man prancing around with a celery stalk implanted in his butt as a distraction.

This is the caliber of most of the humor, and as such, I have to say that while "MacGruber" gives a few smiles, it is yet another major letdown from the "Saturday Night Live" factory of movies.

Incidentally, here is a list of movies inspired by "Saturday Night Live" sketches from Wikipedia:

The Blues Brothers 1980
Wayne's World 1992
Wayne's World 2 1993
Coneheads 1993
It's Pat 1994
Stuart Saves His Family 1995
A Night at the Roxbury 1998
Blues Brothers 2000 1998
Superstar 1999
The Ladies Man 2000
MacGruber 2010

Actually, I would add "Mr. Mike's Mondo Video" and "Gilda Live" to the list as they are also clearly inspired by "Saturday Night Live" as well.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

"Iron Man 2" is Good, Too!

Alright, I don't understand critics sometimes. I loved "Iron Man" and I loved "Iron Man 2". I think I liked the first one more, but the point is, these are good movies and what a superhero movie should be. That is, filled with action, but also a decent story, decent story structure and humor. Also, a tad bit of believability should be there, but it is understandable that these things are over the top.

I had no hopes for "Iron Man" the original, when it came out because there had been a slew of BORING superhero movies. My tastes in superheroes veir the direction of the Adam West "Batman", which is way too campy for most. To me, how silly is it for someone to basically run around in their underwear fighting crime with another nincompoop wearing his underwear?

So, "Iron Man 2" was a breath of fresh air, too. Best scene: the ultimate fate of the ex-wife weapon. I also loved the more than a wink and a nod to Disney's Epcot and Carousel of Tomorrow, even going so far as to hire Richard Sherman to write a parody song called "Make Way For Tomorrow Today" (parody of "It's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow"). Great stuff!

Anyway, if you don't take these things too seriously, you can have a lot of fun.