Monday, March 22, 2010

March musings part 2

A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS: I first visited Hollywood on a very brief trip back in 2006 or so. I basically walked down Hollywood Boulevard taking pictures of the stars in the street. I made it all the way to the classic Mann’s Chinese Theater, but time prevented me from looking at the legendary hand and footprints in cement. I basically had to leave right then and there. A few weeks ago, I got another chance to go to Hollywood, and this time the cement prints were a must see. It was fun- I got to compare my handprints to Humphrey Bogart, Robin Williams and Deanna Durbin. and it also led me to a bit of a mystery. It seems that a penny was put into the block with Deanna Durbin’s cement prints. Why? It took a little bit of searching, but it seems that Deanna played a character named “Penny” in a film around that time. Here’s a quote from an article that someone was kind enough to post:

"They're organizing an expedition to dig up the penny at the Chinese Theater," explained Deanna (Durbin). When they took my footprints for the theater someone exclaimed, 'Oh, we should have a penny to put in the cement with her footprints!' Because my name is 'Penny" in the picture, you know. And some elderly lady brought one up and they used it. I tried to find her afterward, thinking I'd like to know more about her-she was so sweet to us. But she had gone home."
- HOW KIDS GROW UP IN HOLLYWOOD, Oakland Tribune, February 26, 1939, By Alice L. Tildesley

This is a fun example of change that has been laying on the ground for the past half-century or so. My friend Bert, obsessed with finding pennies (long story, folks), urged me to try and pick it out of the cement. No such luck; it was wedged in there pretty deep. He then suggested I take out the entire block of cement and bring it home. I responded, "Who do you think I am, Lucille Ball?"

I’m not sure about this, but I’d bet that the Star Wars characters have the shortest amount of time between their first movie and getting their feet in cement at the theater. The date on their cement block is August 3, 1977- which is LESS THAN THREE MONTHS after Star Wars debuted! How would you like to get your footprints in cement at the theater less than three months after you debuted as a movie star? Not too shabby, boys. It’s quite a testament to how popular the film was at that time.

It was a fun visit - I’d recommend you to go early, and be aware that you’ll be ambushed by several people who want to give you a tour of the town. You can view a few of the classic prints in cement on my Flickr page:


THE MORE THINGS CHANGE: I picked up a copy of Fantastic Four 400 at a flea market recently, and got a real kick out of it. It was a fun read, and it immediately brought me up to speed (well, at least more up to speed) on what has been going on in the comic. Reed is dead. Reed’s dad has taken his place. Ben has a weird face deformity going on. I‘m sure he doesn‘t sweat it too much. Dr. Doom’s son Kristoff has taken Doom’s place. Johnny is apparently getting over a bad relationship. Susan is trying to get over Reed’s death. The Watcher has been demoted to the laughingstock watcher. In spite of these significant changes, things are pretty much the same for the FF. The comic broke ground in that it was one of the first to present the characters as “real people” with personal issues that affected their work. Those personal issues remain an important part of the comic, and hopefully always will.

More about my thoughts on comic books here:


LET’S ROB SAN DIEGO: Now look, folks. I’ve got nothing (major) against Los Angeles. It’s a fine town. But coming from San Diego, I have a few concerns. First there are rumors that the San Diego Chargers will move up to the L.A. area. That would leave San Diego without a football team and the possible demise of Qualcomm Stadium into housing tracts. NOW there’s a rumor that the Comic-Con will be moving to Los Angeles! Please folks, one crime at a time. Give San Diego a bone, here. I know L.A. is trying to be the big “hub” of entertainment, but it’s not fair to say that ALL entertainment has to take place in L.A. Keeping the Comic-Con in San Diego is no big loss to L.A., and based on the Comic-Con’s past success, keeping it in San Diego won’t prevent the fans from coming to visit. My only fear is that somehow, the Comic-Con suits will smell more money by moving to L.A. Their gain will be San Diego’s loss. That could be what the folks in charge of the Chargers are going through as well. But when talking about L.A., anyone who lives in San Diego will tell you- bigger isn’t always better. If they do move to L.A., it will be for the money.

Come to think of it, that’s why I moved to L.A. . .

Friday, March 12, 2010

March musings, part one (I hope)

MEET BARBARA SIPPLE: My music collecting hobby has introduced me to another great artist that I enjoy a lot. Barbie Sipple produced a pair of Christian folk albums from back in the day that make for some beautiful listening. She sings some great songs, and anybody who likes Bert is a friend of mine. You can enjoy a few of her songs here:


WHILE NO ONE WAS WATCHING: On March 6, 2010 at 8 p.m., Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” made its broadcast television debut on ABC Family Channel. You missed it? Don’t feel bad, I almost did, too. If I hadn’t seen it while glancing through the newspaper TV listings, I’m sure I would have missed it. It wasn’t on the news. I didn’t see any ads for it in the paper or on TV (I must qualify this by saying that these days, I seldom spend much time watching TV). In order to understand why this is significant, consider the following:

* When Walt Disney’s “Dumbo” made its broadcast TV premiere, it was preceded by an hour-long special about Walt Disney productions.
* When “Star Wars” made its broadcast TV premiere, it was preceded by a special about the making of the film (this despite the fact that Star Wars had already debuted on home video and on pay cable TV).
* For decades, the annual TV broadcast of “The Wizard of Oz” was a rite of passage for kids & fans, sometimes preceded by specials about the making of the film.
* When “Pinocchio” and “Mary Poppins” made their debuts on the Disney Channel (in the days when it was a “premium” or extra cost cable channel), they each made the front cover of the Disney Channel magazine.
*"Gone With The Wind" was, for several years, almost as big a TV event as “Wizard of Oz.” The film was usually split into two parts over two nights. I recall it being on the front page of the local TV guide.

I bring these things up to try to demonstrate how much TV has changed. This super movie makes its broadcast debut, and everybody says, “Ho-hum! Oh, well. I’ll just rent it on Netflix.” It’s a far cry from the days when there were only three networks, and only two of them had a clear signal. Back then, the TV debut of a special film was something to celebrate. Today, the product is so cheap that we not only surround it by commercials, but we interrupt it with a little note at the bottom of the screen promoting another TV show.

Remember when we found out “Who shot J.R.?” My family and I never watched “Dallas,” but the hype around the event was so huge that you couldn’t help but be interested to find out who did it. I recall watching the show for about ten minutes before shutting off the set and going to bed (no muppets, you see). Of course there are plenty of shows today that still carry that “must-see” feeling along, notably “Lost,” “24” and “American Idol.” The difference today is a lot more choices. More shows means more to watch - even if it’s not what you really want to watch. It’s like food. There are thankfully many options for getting food today, even if it isn’t really what you want to eat. And because of this, we tend to take food for granted- even after we’ve had a wonderful meal. It’s hard to appreciate something that’s so readily available, almost like the air we breathe. Sometimes, it takes skill to be thankful.

I’m thankful when something cool comes on TV that I’d like to watch. The problem is that these days, with so many choices, and with the product being treated so cheaply by the stations, that doesn’t happen too often. I was thankful to see “Snow White” make its broadcast debut, but as I zipped through the teeny-bopper commercials and endured all the little “bugs” on the screen, I began to wonder how thankful ABC Family was to be running it, and how thankful everybody else was to be seeing it.

More about this fabulous film here:


WHY HAS THE MUSIC STOPPED?: This partial post from Dartman sums up perfectly everything I could say about the subject:

In case you haven't heard, MTV took the "Music Television" out of their name last week. It makes what most of the world has known for years official: MTV is no longer a music channel. It's sad and very depressing. When MTV first hit the airwaves, it was a revolution and a phenomenon. It was very similar to the first wave of Rock and Roll back in the 50s. Kids loved it and parents hated it. It gave rise to a new form of musician and started a whole new era of music. Then, somewhere along the way, it became home to a bunch of really sophomoric programs that had nothing to do with music. . .Today's youth and all future generations have no clue just how great MTV once was. MTV has become the rebel that became part of the establishment when the sound of money clinked in their ear.

Just one P.S.: There are an awful lot of talented musicians that I never would have heard of if they had not been on MTV. Today, I don’t know of another venue that could present those artists to such a wide audience. The music industry is, sadly, very fragmented. Everyone seems to “already know” who they like, and while people might be willing to listen to new artists that aren't on the radio. . .there’s really no good way for them to actually do it. Not anymore.

NO HAIR? DON'T CARE: Here's a recent column from friend Steve Lambert. I am not, as he is, one of those who has been given the gift of a bald head, but after you read his words, I'm not going to be too worried about going bald. Here are some excerpts:

"When it comes to aging's effect on men's hair, there is no hiding. We've all known guys who thought they'd be the exception - that they'd fool Mother Nature with their bad dye jobs, plugs, creepy-looking hairpieces or comb-overs.

"Some joke about it, as Art Garfunkel did (yes, those curly locks are fake) during his recent concert in San Bernardino. Which may be stranger still - "I'm bald, I'm going to cover it up with a bad wig, then tell you all I'm covering it up with a bad wig." Why not just stay bald?

"Telly Savalas did. Michael Jordan did. And if you ask women which version of Sean
Connery they find sexier - the buzzed, confident street cop in "The Untouchables" or the badly-touped submarine captain "The Hunt for Red October," it's not even close."