Monday, July 30, 2007

I was so sad this morning to find out that Tom Snyder had died. I was always a huge fan of his. Starting with when he had the TOMorrow show and interviewed everyone from movie stars to out and out nutcases, all with the same aplomb. I loved that he was a bit of stuffed shirt, but with a real interest in the fringe. And on top of everything he was a fantastic story teller. If there was anyone on TV that would be fun to share a beer with it would be Tom.

This clip is quentisential Tom Snyder. Dealing with a high Johnny Rotten in a way only he could.

He was one of a kind.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hot Town, Cinema in the City
Its summer and that means that instead of sitting in my apartment watching movies I’m finally getting outside, relaxing in the cool green grass…and watching movies. Redundant isn’t it.

Every summer, for the past eight years the Chicago Park District puts up a huge screen in Grant Park, and shows classic films for free. It’s a very urban experience sitting outside on that classic park lawn with thousands of people watching great films.

Last night I saw “Double Indemnity”. It is a good choice for a park movie. There enough camp and story to hold your interest and distract you from the bugs try to fly up your nose. Barbara Stanwyck was her nastiest, blond, best snapping, “We’re both rotten”; only occasionally drowned out by motorcycles and ambulances speeding down Lake Shore Drive. Fun night, but it made me melancholy to think back on all the summers past and how the time is flying by. Some of my favorite and most interesting movie going experiences have been sitting in Grant Park.

For example:
SINGING IN THE RAIN: My first movie in the park. I met up with friends right before the movie started. I was unaware of ‘the rules’. Such as, get there early. We sat so far back on the lawn the screen looked like a 12 inch television set. But it was still incredible; positive energy flowed through the crowd with spontaneous applause after each number. Singing in the Rain became a huge city sing-along.

AUNTIE MAME: It was one of the most humid nights I can remember enduring; 95% humidity. Auntie Mame is long, almost three hours. Without even a hint of a breeze, the air was still, heavy, and I was soaked to the skin in my own sweat. However, the cool performance of Roz Russell drinking martinis seemed to cool everyone off. I’d never seen it before, and was completely dazzled by it. Someone had bought one of those chairs that is based on the premise of a sling and feels like you are wearing a diaper. I had been using it that evening. When one the straps broke, I fell back in a plop and poured a full glass of red wine right in my face. Life was a Banquet.

A HARD DAYS NIGHT: The crowd was huge; I think they said 80+ thousand people. It was like seeing the Beatles live. The crowd went insane after each number with people getting up and dancing on their blankets.

WEST SIDE STORY: I got so smashed during this movie. It was a lesson to eat heartily before drinking wine. During it’s long running time I lost track of how many glasses I’d had. By the time it was over I was blotto and weeping as the credits rolled. There were some wonderful crowd moments: I went to the bathroom and there was a line of Port-o-Potties. While waiting in line the Jets song started. “If you’re a jet you’re a jet all the way…" A spontaneous dance broke out between me and African-American Woman, then every one around us started to join. Then there were these young teenage girls sitting behind us. At the beginning they were complaining how they hated the movie. “Stupid movie” they kept yelling, but by the end they were holding each other crying.

PILLOW TALK: An average movie to see on television, but fantastic with a huge crowd. People were laughing so much that it sounded like there was a laugh track. You could hear the laughter as it rolled through the crowd and bounced off the Standard Oil Building.

REAR WINDOW: It was an enormous turn out of people that stretched almost all the way to the Petrillo Band Shell. It was packed where there wasn’t a spare space anywhere. During the scene where Grace Kelly breaks into Raymond Burr’s apartment it was completely, utterly quiet. Thousands of people spellbound. It gave me chills.

CITIZEN KANE: Now supposedly the founders of the movies in the park were Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. As many of you may know Roger has been really sick with throat cancer. For the past two years they let him pick the movies in the park. The movies shown those years came from some book he wrote about the movies you ‘need’ to see. The problem was that they were all film study class films, The Hustler, High Noon, On the Waterfront, all good movies, but not really movies that inspire festive, high spirits. Well, the opening night of the festival Roger was there to introduce his favorite movie, Citizen Kane. (Citizen Kane is a great movie, but not a movie that you want to see while sitting in the dirt in a sling chair; it’s not very campy. People can’t yell “you go girl” or “woo-hoo”.) Com Ed, one of the sponsors that year gave out these big foam hands with the thumbs up. We were instructed that at some point everyone in the audience was supposed to hold the hands and yell “Thumbs up Roger!”

Well, Roger came out and did his speech about the movie and how wonderful the opening shot is “blah, blah, blah”. Then we did the ‘thumbs up Roger”, applauded his years as a reviewer, and waited for the movie to start. I was completely unprepared for what I was about to experience.

For some unknown reason the sound was turned up full blast. And it was DEAFENING. I grew up next to an airport and the Southwest Flight to Miami had nothing on the opening credits. I’M TELLING YOU LOUD. To top it off “Citizen Kane” is a loud movie. When it got to part where it jumps into the March of Time newsreel about Kane’s life and the announcer yells, “Legendary was the Xanadu where Kubla Kahn decreed his stately pleasure dome” I thought the windows on all the buildings on Michigan Avenue were going to shatter. It just seemed to get louder and louder. I remember at one point yelling in Jonathan’s ear that I couldn’t stand it for very much longer: “What?” he yelled back unable to hear me. By the time Kane’s wife, the opera singer, start fighting, the sound of her screeching voice made people gathering up their blankets and run out of the park as if there was a sniper in the bushes; People were taking the foam Ebert “thumps up” hands, frantically tearing them up and stuffing them in their ears. It was the most insane thing I’ve ever been through.

E.T.: A huge, huge crowd, the second biggest to “Star Wars”. I stood up and looked back; it was people as far as I could see going all the way back to the end of the field. The park bathrooms couldn’t handle the crushing amount of people. At the end of the movie all the toilets had overflowed, the park district had closed them and they were directing people to the Millennium Park toilets blocks away. An ordinary looking woman (suburban type mom type) was just standing on the sidewalk crying and pissing all over herself as crowds of people streamed by her.

GUYS AND DOLLS: Every year they try to do a musical. Except for Sinatra’s singing, and Vivian Blaine funny performance, Guys and Dolls is a bit of a bore for me. But I’d never seen it on a big screen and sometimes movies I don’t like that much on television becomes magical in the park.
This was not to be the case with Guys and Dolls.

There is always the possibility of a rain out. Many an afternoon I’d be checking the radar to see where the clouds are to determine if we can see the movie before it rains. I don’t know where my head was this day. They said rain storms, but we were in complete denial. We’d gotten there early and ate and chatted as the sky got darker and darker, but it was the last movie of the year; we had to stick it out. It began to drizzle a little and some people began to pack-up; However, an announcement came over the sound system: The weather service says that the winds are moving the storm quickly past Chicago, it’s expected to rain for about 15 minutes and then blow over. The movie will continue as planned. So we settled in for an evening of pleasant entertainment.

As soon as the cartoon started, so did the rain. Then we heard from way in the back of the field a roar of screams as a huge sheet of water wafted over the crowd. Everyone dived for shelter under their blankets or umbrellas. It rained really hard for about ten minutes. There was nothing to do; we were stuck. We’d just sat there under our umbrellas trying to make sure that our cookies and dinner didn’t get wet. It was too late to move because we’d get even more drenched and we had a full picnic to pack up. We decided it was better just to stay put. Eventually, the rain let up and Guys and Dolls started. Again, they announced that the rain was going to be brief and the movie would continue. So we sat under our umbrellas and waited. Instead of it letting up; it got worse… and worse. It was a downpour. We huddled under our umbrellas while the rain drops sparkled in a Technicolor beam to the screen.

It kept raining. We weren’t the only crazy people there, maybe a few hundred others stayed too. Some huddled under tarps a couple people had make-shift tents; most likely former boy scouts. There was a nearby couple who just had a blanket, no umbrella. They sat there getting soaked. You’ve really got to be a Stubby Kaye fan to do that!

It rained some more. I would drink a half a glass of wine put it down and then it will be filled to the brim with rain water. My feet were becoming wrinkled and my umbrella could not stand the amount of water pooling up on it and was dripping on my chest. I bent over just slightly towards Gloria who was valiantly huddled under her umbrella and a big plop of water flowed off the top of my umbrella and poured directly into her crotch. “That was my only dry spot” she moaned.

By the time that Marlon takes Jean Simmons to Cuba the rain had stopped and a beautiful lake breeze drifted over us. Afterwards, it was really difficult trying to pack everything up. I had brought a big antique quilted patchwork throw made from bits and pieces of old curtains. It was soaked and heavy. In the cab on the way home I must have dripped a gallon of water in the back seat. The next day, I woke up horribly sick and I was having trouble breathing. I suspect my lungs had filled with water.
On one magical night a wonderful thing happened. For several years before the movie started they would show a short film by a Chicago filmmaker. I can't imagine how that must have felt for someone to show their film in front of that huge crowd. This night the short film started and it was a man talking about how his favorite summer thing to do is going to the movies in the park and how he and his girlfriend had there first date here. He then pointed from the screen and said, "I think she's over there... right now I want everyone to turn and look at her"... he then pulled a ring from his pocket and proposed from the screen to his girl friend. We all hoped that she would say yes, because can you imagine the humiliation. And she did say yes... That wins the prize for best proposal in my book.

So summer is here again. I'm hoping for more magical nights, although magic seems pretty slim these days. As I get older it gets a little harder to drag my blanket out there, then worry that ten minutes before the movie starts someone with a big chair will put it in front of me. Still this year the movies are back to being fun and interesting. I guess Roger has been too sick to pick them, the poor thing.
Anyway, Can't wait until next week when I get to see Dorothy Malone dancing in her cha-cha heels in "Written on the Wind".

Happy summer!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Tammy Faye... RIP

I wasn't going to write anything about the passing of Tammy Faye, but then I saw this wonderful tribute video to her on Towleroad.

Before the days of cable, in the summer I would often stay up all night watching television in the basement. WGN late movies, Infomercials, and PTL for late night TV, that was it! I have fond memories of watching Jim and Tammy Show every night. Thinking back I watched it pretty regularly; Perhaps because I was still coming off of my 'born again' phase; or because there was truly nothing else on. I clearly remember the fundraising everyday for Kevin's House. Kevin was a teenage boy who was only a torso. At one point I was tempted to send in money, Jim and Tammy were so persuasive. When the scandal hit, it was a shock, but not a surprise. Jim always seemed like a snake oil salesman to me.

Through the years I've seen Tammy Faye on one thing or another; but it wasn't until the past few years that I've come to really respect her for being the patron saint of all misfits. And, as the video below shows, a really fantastic person. In this world where religion is beign used to promote intolerance and fear, Tammy was all about acceptance and joy. Her presence will be missed.

Friday, July 20, 2007

One more thing to worry about --
That Your Hands Smell Like Lard!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


As the dog days of summer slowly drift by I'm pleased to give you the July issue of Women's Household. These come the from July '66, '67, '68, '70, and '72 issues.

A couple weeks ago I almost had a ephemera nightmare . We had a huge rain storm and I'd left my porch window open. I had left this collection of magazines not far from the window. But fear not, gentle reader, only a couple were damp; and I learned that Women's Household Magazines are very absorbent. But it could have been a disaster.

But not as much of a disaster as these dresses these poor women were forced to wear. Yes, Mrs. Hazel James didn't get me the money that I asked for in time so that I wouldn't post these photos.

I've featured collections before, but these are some I've missed; Starting with little Janice Howe and her bubble gum charms. The things I've learned from these magazines: Dish Rag cakes, noiseless rattles, the fact I can make money by writing brief paragraphs, and now the world of bubble gum charms. They are the toys that would come in Cracker Jack or with candy. Click here for an article on them from e-bay... and good luck on starting your own collection. If bubble gum charms are too fast paced a hobby how about unusual salt and pepper shakers. She is the 2nd woman featured with a huge collection of these things. Much like the maintaining of the Golden Gate Bridge, by the time Mrs Holbrook would finish dusting this collection it would be time to start at the beginning and dust them again.
I guess if I ever toyed with a ceramic collection I would have to go with 'lady heads'. Read my House on the Rock post to see the photos I took of their collection. Their huge collection is downright mind boggling.
Now that summer is officially here all young grads are out looking for jobs. May I suggest becoming a "Roll-On Embroidery" training instructor? It might not be a fortune 500 company job, but think of the joy in your parent's faces when you tell them how you are going to use your liberal arts degree.

This Month's Features. (click to enlarge)

I had to skip Missing Persons and What's Your Problem this month. Even more than usual, both were heartbreaking. If you must see them, e-mail me and I'll send you the story 'Where is my father" and WYP asks "I let my daughter be adopted by my in-laws, how can I improve my relations with her now." In the meantime, to the left is the lovely Bonnie Bingaman who seems to do everything including raising her own food.

What is Your Opinion asks: Should Girls Be Offered Higher Education. I say no; Not when there are opportunities like teaching Roll On Embroidery training instructor jobs are available to women without a college degree.

My Diet has an inspiring story with one of the most shocking before and after photos I've ever seen... Mrs. Imra Klentz won 1st Prize in "Best Improvement". Kudos Mrs. Klentz! All About Pets. Hello Dolly the possum. As Uncle Jed from the Beverly Hillbillies would say: "The good thing about possum is it's just as good the second day."

And for your own craft projects... Precious Pretty Dolly Dithers! This would make a great tee-shirt.

Hope your summer is going well...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Two reasons I don't drink coffee
besides the acid re-flux.

The pent up rage in these commercials was enough to start the women's movement.
Are they really talking about coffee?

And this floated around the web a while back;
I repeat it because it's one of the most amazing bits of advertising I've ever seen.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Listen to the Bernard Herrmann theme to
"The 7th Voyage of Sinbad"

RIP Kerwin Matthews


The extremely handsome star of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (1960), and Jack the Giant Killer (1962) and unforgettable The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973) was one of my first movie star crushes. I never missed a WGN showing of the 7th Voyage of Sinbad, which seemed to show every other week.
And I still can't stop looking at his eyes...
I listened to the commentary on the 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Ray Harryhausen said that they would always want to hire Matthews because he was a master at fighting with nothing.

He died in his sleep at 81, living in San Francisco with his partner with his partner of 46 years, Tom Nicoll, and two cats. I can't think of a nicer life or way to go... obit in the SF Chronicle

Friday, July 13, 2007

Hello everyone... this is Mrs. Norman Maine....

This week has been a blogging whirlwind. And it “just shows to go ya” that you never know what’s going to be a hit post. Last November I did a piece on my Women’s Household Magazines and that was a big hit, but I think the “Eyes Wide Shut” cartoons have that one beat. Mike Lynch on his blog has the history of what he calls the “viral blogosphere effect”. Meaning one person does a piece on someone else’s blog and then it’s picked up by another blog and so on.

I really couldn’t have guessed that these scans would be so popular, I mean Andy Gump!?

Anyway… it all started with the fantastic Mike Lynch making a link on his website, then, then boing-boing , then a wave of other sites too numerous to mention. Thank you to my fellow bloggers who (At this point in my speech, as I thank everyone who linked to me, a drunken James Mason comes up and slaps me in the face) linked to this post.

I’ve a stats counter on my site. To prove that this is a total fluke, here is a shot of my stats summary for last week… From 50 - 90,000! Even my 7th grade diary stats have gone up from 0 to 250!

I’m floored that something I half-heartedly put up on a Sunday would be commented about in Greece, Spain, Russia, and Germany on Wednesday. I mean, I did this post just because I was waiting to go to dinner and had a half hour to kill. Hence, the crappy scans I did. (Should I rescan them?) To think, I was going to put up a piece about a teenage Patricia Neal in an actor’s camp. Ironically, the next piece I did about a Munsingwear ad I thought was really funny. I made an effort to get it linked to a few ‘gay themed’ blogs; When I noticed my hits started going up that’s what I thought was happening.

It’s been a blast to see that this somehow has struck a cord in cartoonists around the world, and that I've uncovered something that was lost on the last page of a moldy magazine. One blogger even set up a flicker group based on it. Blindfolded art . But this is my favorite link by far. German Web-TV Show -- Anyone speak German…?

Anyway… all I can say “Wow…” I hope I get some regular readers out of this and I’m going to be very, very smug all weekend. Now back to our regularly scheduled blogging. I'm doing my post about my collection of zither records… that one I’m sure will be a huge hit in Alpine Europe.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I think this is another test I would fail...

These moldy LIFE Magazines that have been sitting in a box for years have turned out to be a gold mine of Americana. Americans are more overweight than ever before, but thankfully dame fashion doesn't require that they squeeze their bodies into girdles and then push on themselves.

I actually have to confess, a few years ago I bought a man-girdle. Not that I'm fat but as middle age creeps up on me, so has my pants size. It's the most uncomfortable thing in the world, but it does make me sit up straight and hold my posture correctly so my clothes look less slouchy. I've just always had a fear that I'd be wearing it when someone would want to hook up with me; then having to confess that I'm wearing a girdle. Oh, the horror, the horror.

I'm going to do some sit-ups right now... Seriously...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Tale of Sue and how she learned to handle both...

I do believe that people have forgotten the time when you had to be correct with every key stroke; when you had to use carbon paper to make copies; when being a typist was truly a skill and an art. I taught myself to type with some typing test records, for a while I was the only guy I knew who could type. Now you have learn how to type in kindergarten.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Tie That One , Lug!
Before Brokeback there Was Munsing Wear

I swear this is the most erotic thing I've seen in a while. Two manly men in various states of undress discussing how their underwear doesn't ride up or sweat up their 'wings'. "You only go half-way. Let me show you a thing or two about real comfort". "Steady Big Boy, you'll make varsity yet". The dialogue is filled with sexual tension.

Plus, how shocking to see an obviously naked man in the first frame.
This pre-dates Calvin Klein by 50 years!

Sunday, July 08, 2007


In 1947 Life Magazine asked some famous comic strip artists to to draw their famous characters while wearing a blindfold. The results are interesting; they sort of remind me of that famous nature film that I was shown in Health Class where they blew marijuana on a spider and then watched him make crazy freaked-out webs. I have to confess that I've not heard of half of these comic strips; However, for the sake of preservation I've scanned them all. In my opinion Chick Young's Dagwood and Chester Gould's Dick Tracy are the best, but Dixie Dugan's artist John Striebel seems like he wasn't even trying!