Monday, February 12, 2018

Going Back...

True, I often gaze retrospectively, that's a given. But right now I'm going back in order to bring you the Newsday TV Book covers of November and December 1973, plus January of '74 since I skipped that month as well. Maybe someday I'll revisit them with more detail like I usually do, but for now I'd just like to get caught up. (In the meantime, if you really feel you're missing out, here's a look at a January 1974 issue I wrote ages ago, and here's the Christmas week edition of 1973, and 1983 to boot.)

I left off at the last week of October 1973, so here it is. If you think I'm giving that week short shrift, take a look--Newsday left off two days!
Barbra Streisand's latest special, "Singer Presents Barbra Streisand... and Other Musical Instruments" doesn't get much of a touting in her two-page interview with Newsday's Jerry Parker. As she closes their conversation, she says she likes it, but then she suggests Parker call this article "She'd Rather Stay Home." Way to shill, Babs!
"The Men Who Made the Movies" was an eight-part PBS series created by Time Magazine's Richard Schickel and hosted by Cliff Robertson. Newsday film critic Joseph Gelmis offers four columns, mostly about Raoul Walsh and Frank Capra, and staff artist Bernie Cootner gets busy with the cover.
"Vivacious Valerie Harper" graces the next cover. Her interview is pretty straight-forward--there's talk of her own spin-off!--but critics of her lefty activism will be delighted to learn that the Jersey girl's first role (at the age of five, in the South Orange Winter Pageant) was as a snowflake...
This makes me miss Thanksgiving. Seriously, let's go back!
November wraps up with this color Gary Viskupic cover depicting Michael Sarrazin as himself and Frankenstein's Monster. I'll throw in the Bill Kaufman article.
We're into December now, with knobby-nosed Karl Malden in his Streets of San Francisco role.
 His article talks about how he'd delve into parts through hands-on research, as he was taught at The Actor's School (and which he himself taught at many colleges). He enjoyed performing card tricks, learned while filming The Cincinnati Kid.
The World at War was a British documentary series narrated by Sir Laurence Olivier, airing at the time on New York City's WOR-TV channel 9. The episode of this particular week, "Whirlwind," about bombing raids on Germany between 1939 and 1944, can be viewed here.
So, yeah, the issue for December 16th through the 22nd is missing from my collection. (I'm not OCD exactly, but I'd prefer to not even think about it.) Thus we move on to Christmas week with Maude's Bill Macy, born Wolf Martin Garber, getting cozy with a snowman.
The New Year brings Bowl games, of course, so this issue offers Newsday sports guy Stan Isaacs a rare opportunity for a TV Book piece. Much of it is about Rex Lardner, Jr., of NBC Sports (and Ring's grand-nephew). In another unusual by-line, Newsday Religion Writer Ken Briggs covers Religious America, a PBS series which I couldn't find any clips from (but I did dig up this review by not-yet-Archbishop John J. O'Connor).
ABC aired "The Fragile Mind," a special narrated by Joanne Woodward, profiling five people with mental disorders. Today, they'd each get their own E! show.
In the article for this week's cover story, Bill Bixby claimed to have become an accomplished magician under the tutelage of Mark Wilson. Bixby's show, The Magician, was retooled after folks found part of the premise too far-fetched: in early episodes, the title crime-fighting character traveled around in an enormous jet which served as his base (and garage for his Corvette), flown by a single pilot. This conceit was scrapped and his home became a mansion, reportedly based on the Magic Castle in Hollywood.
Last, we have Benjamin Kubelsky giving Nathan Birnbaum (or possibly his wax figure) a touch-up for "Jack Benny's Second Farewell Special." A third was not to be: Jack died eleven months later, the day after Christmas.

Stay tuned, I'll be back with a more detailed look at the month of February, 1974. I'm missing a week here too, unfortunately, but listen to this: the next issue's cover features crusty old Jeanette Nolan as Dirty Sally. No wonder you can't tear yourself away!

Monday, February 05, 2018

Remembering Old Snow.

Just dropping in to say that I've "updated" an old post. It's the 40th anniversary of the big blizzard of 1978, so I've refined and added to the commemoration I wrote twelve years ago. Check it out right HERE!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Bite Me, Jolly Roger!

As you may know, I curate a YouTube channel of vintage video. (That sounds way more impressive than "I upload dopey old commercials for no meaningful reason.") Of course, certain videos are more popular than others, but I haven't given much thought to the negative feedback. This evinces itself in the occasional pissy comment (which I often just delete, unless it's amusing in some way, intentionally or not), but more commonly it's in the form of someone clicking the thumb-down symbol. When you hover your cursor over the thumb, the notation "I dislike this" pops up. I think I'd enjoy using this in real life. For instance, when your Olive Garden server asks you how everything is, say "Go like this," and make simultaneous thumbs up and down with your hands. When he or she mirrors this, press their down-thumb with one finger and say, "Click." (I'm just kidding--don't ever go to Olive Garden.)

Out of curiosity, this morning I reviewed the poo-poos my clips have received over the years. The only reason this occurred to me was that two videos I just uploaded this weekend have already been nixed. I can't say I was surprised, unfortunately: one watcher disapproved of a TV station sign-off which included a sermonette preaching tolerance regarding an issue that's still very relevant, the children of undocumented immigrants; the other dissenter had a problem with a brief Public Service Announcement for the United Jewish Appeal Federation featuring Stiller and Meara. Oy. Still with the Jew-hating, really?

There are quite a few news briefs and promos that got the finger, which I attribute to a distaste for either the newscaster or the story being reported. I found that some celebrities aren't beloved, with Matt Lauer (in a PM Magazine promo) and Danny Masterson (just a li'l fella in a Tang ad) being the least surprising among them, given their scandals. On the other hand, while I understand that everyone has preferences about the supermarkets they choose to patronize or avoid, I find the decision to disdain commercials for A&P, Key Food and ShopRite less explainable.

Anyway, here's a completely non-comprehensive look at other videos that inspired someone out there to put on a frowny face and unhappily share their displeasure with the world.

--Jason Alexander's Good n' Plenty ad got three suck-thumbs, and Vikki LaMotta got two. In fact, her "Vikkiflex" workout equipment commercial had so many degrading comments that her son contacted me and asked that I disable commenting on the video because he wanted to show it to his kids but couldn't!
--Other celebs getting poor notices: Andy Warhol's "Do you know where your kids are?" bit for WNEW (this one has 11,000 views, btw), Kitty Carlisle Hart doing that same brief "It's 10pm" bit, promos for Joe Franklin and Don Lane, an outtake of Joe Garagiola pretending to be angry, Cheryl Ladd, Mark Russell (or maybe the Western New York tourism he's promoting), Leah Remini (I guess that's not overly shocking), Bryan Cranston dressed like a skunk (what's not to like?), William Shatner dressed as T.J. Hooker talking about Tourette's, and Jayne Modean for C&C Cola (which is especially galling to me, as I enjoyed both her and the soda).
--Random TV station stuff catching shade include other sign-offs, a promo for a Honeymooners special, the old syndicated open to The Little Rascals, a "please stand by" card, a contest promotion tied in with the Ed Grimley cartoon, and a blooper of WABC news anchor Kaity Tong with her tongue out.
--Other ads drawing ire are ones for Cabbage Patch Kids diapers, information about Yankees tickets, auditions for Dream Girl USA, Action Park in autumn, the Car Cash alien, and Foxes, a cheesy-looking nightspot in Jersey (probably from someone who caught the clap there).

--Most puzzling to me are the pans for my family's home movies: Idlewild Airport in 1962, Syosset's Lollipop Farm in 1959, and SIX spurnings of Nunley's Happyland Amusement Park (perhaps better known as Jolly Roger)! I noticed these detestations usually come from overseas viewers. I'm not sure what it is about kids riding the Mite Mouse roller coaster in the early 60's that sparks such protest in the Third World, but they'll just have to deal with it--that video's got over 45,000 views!

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going back on Youtube to piss on people's baby videos. Pfft, you call that a spit bubble? DISLIKE!

Thursday, January 04, 2018

A New Post for a New Year (and Yeah, I Totally Effed Up the 1973 TV Books Continuity).

I still hope to pick up right where I left off, with the November and December 1973 TV Books. I really wanted to have them done in time for the holidays, but of course that's the busiest time of year for my livelihood. (I craft custom formal wear for sock monkeys. Have I never mentioned that here before?) So, we'll have to see about that. Yes, we'll see, won't we?

Anyway, I'm just popping in to remind you that, like the Incredible Shrinking Man, I still exist, and in fact I have another blog concentrating on my collection of old commercials. If you haven't read any of it, you're either unaware of it or you couldn't possibly imagine giving an airborne coital act about old commercials. If it's the former, you're in luck: That particular blog has enjoyed modest updates of late, and there's some entertaining reading to be found there (the author enthused cautiously).

For instance, writing about categorizing these vintage ads, I describe a spot I enjoy from the late 70's:

"I concocted one [compilation] I call "Strange Figgers... Weird Figgers" (after a Groucho line). It features ads with people wearing stupid costumes, bizarre puppets, and creepy stop-motion characters. Characters such as 'Li'l Softie,' a tiny naked cherub-woman with a large blue hat topping her oversized head, who hawks Nice 'n Soft bathroom tissue. Li'l Softie has kinda like a regular woman's head, but with a pudgy Kewpie doll body, and it is almost certainly brain-damaged. It yammers on in a breathy voice about toilet paper while standing on a supermarket aisle endcap, where one surmises it lives. The imagining of its everyday existence is bleak and heartbreaking.

"Gruff character actor Ron Masak (he's that guy who impersonated Lou Costello, and played the sheriff on Murder She Wrote) plays his role of a regular fella out shopping with his wife (Susan Tolsky) with a distinctly Klugmanesque air. He encounters this Softie creature and regards it with a mixture of wariness and disgust. When it squeaks that Nice 'n Soft is "softier" than other bathroom tissues, Masak repeats the made-up word with exaggerated incredulity. Soon he realizes the TP is indeed superior to other brands, and although he will only concede that the paper is 'very, very soft,' his demeanor turns to reluctant acceptance, his new warmth undoubtedly laced with pity for such a grotesque abomination of God's law as Li'l Softie."

I didn't upload this one to my Hugo Faces YouTube channel, but some hero put it out there, so take a look at it now. Witness it and cry for Softie.