Archive for September, 2008

Best of the Best!

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

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Hi Everyone! At the Huntington Beach Plein Air Painting Event last weekend, my wife Cathy painted outdoors on Saturday, Sept. 13th, painting sights on the streets of Huntington Beach. She settled on a charming little bungalow court called the “Beach Court”, built in 1923 on 6th street. There were dark, cool shadows on the stucco walls outside the courtyard, and the walls of two of the bungalows inside the courtyard were glowing invitingly in the bright afternoon sun. She set up her easel outside the walls on the street and painted the scene in oil, capturing the welcoming charm of the old bungalow court. At the end of the afternoon, she turned her painting in to the Huntington Beach Art Center to be judged in the “Painting In The Streets” competition, the first award the Art Center has made for a (so-called) “quick draw”. This “quick draw” was about the slowest one Cathy has ever been part of, she had about four hours to create her painting, instead of only one or two hours. When the judging was complete, she found she had won the top prize, called “The Best of the Best”. The prize, a check! She thought the title of the prize, “The Best of the Best”, was a bit immodest, but winning a check for a “quick draw” painting was a most joyous and momentous occasion! Her fellow painters, such as Michael Situ and Val Carson, effusively congratulated her with hugs and smiles. There is such good will and fellowship among fine artists. They are all up against the same difficult market and tight deadlines in painting competitions, but they still love to be part of them. Your appreciation of your surroundings is so greatly enhanced by sitting or standing in front of them and capturing their beauty on canvas or paper. Cathy and I have developed a real love for Huntington Beach over the three years we have painted in this event! From it’s charming pier, to the Dog Beach, old Ice House, Library Park, Equestrian center and of course, the Pacific Ocean and the surfers, there is a lot of light and subject matter to cover!

On Sunday the 14th, we went to the “Friends of the Rock” celebration in Eagle Rock. I wish more people would have turned out for the event; earlier in the day there were very few visitors. Later in the afternoon, towards the Gala, more people showed up and the President of the Eagle Rock Historical Society bought two of my watercolors! The money will help the preservation of the Eagle Rock. I helped a little in organizing the event, by talking to some musicians who play classical woodwinds and enticing them into playing for the customers for free! For their trouble they got some “CERB” T-shirts, food and champagne. Their music made us feel at peace and created an atmosphere of artful reflection, that’s sales to you! I hope the event did some good, it was wonderful to be there. Cathy and I painted some still life studies of succulent plants that were also on sale, along with our paintings. I hope some of you readers stopped by the GLAD center that day.

Another giant has passed on, George Putnam, the veteran newscaster and Southern California anchor since the early 1950s, and prominent in New York radio and the Movietone newsreels before that. He lived to be 94, and in that time met and interviewed many prominent men and women, even narrowly escaping the romantic clutches of Mae West! He knew W.C. Handy (as did Grim Natwick), Eleanor Roosevelt, H.V. Kaltenborn, Graham McNamee, every U.S. President since Herbert Hoover, Mort Sahl and many many others. To me, he WAS the voice of Southern California, and what a voice. He had an almost musical way of speaking that really drew me in. I only saw him in person one time, when he was broadcasting from the Arco plaza in downtown Los Angeles. He had a glass studio that was visible from the outside. I was going to my parked car in the plaza, and noticed him as I was opening the door. I waved to him, and he waved back with a big smile. He had no idea who I was, but was friendly to me as a spectator. In the many years that have passed since that time, I’ve heard George on television, and more importantly, on the radio. His radio show was the most fun, and he was obviously more relaxed off the TV cameras. He liked to laugh and joked a lot with his long-time co-host, Chuck Wilder. George liked to tell stories of his ranch in Chino, California, his many horses, thirty cats, and at least that many dogs. He rode his palomino horse every year in the Rose Parade until the horse passed on. If you listened carefully to his radio broadcasts from the Chino ranch, you could hear his pet exotic birds in the background chirping away, almost like the audio atmosphere of a Hindu or Buddhist temple. At first, George’s radio show was about a lot of different subjects, both personal and political. In the last twenty years, his show was about mostly one controversial subject, illegal immigration. He talked every day about the “invasion” of Southern California by illegals, mostly from Mexico, of course. George paid the price in his prestige by being marginalized by the news media for his one-note stridency on the issue, but in recent years, with the threat of terrorism and the very real overloading of our public schools and health-care system in California by the undocumented, George’s subject matter became timely. Let’s face it, George was a right-winger, and I am not a fan of most right-wing talk show hosts. I think Rush Limbaugh should be deported! George had a talk show on L.A. television in the late 1960’s with Mort Sahl called “Both Sides Now”, named after the Joni Mitchell song. You can probably guess who took what side of the issues at hand. I have an out-take from this show on video tape, in which Mort and George almost came to blows over an issue. Mort yelled at George: “Back up, Godzilla, or I’ll pick ya up with a sieve!” George responded in a hurt fashion, “Cut the tape, there’s no sense in proceeding…You’re a damned fool, Mort!” Years later, Mort Sahl was a frequent caller on George’s radio show, however. Evidently, even those on the left could fight and disagree with Putnam, yet remain friends. George had nothing but kind things to say about Sahl on his radio show. To me, George Putnam’s voice was sort of like the Santa Monica or San Gabriel mountains, majestic and seemingly eternal. His voice was stilled on Sept. 12th, 2008, not eternal after all. It’s hard to convey how much I will miss him, I listened to his last broadcast today in re-run from July 14th, when he celebrated his final birthday on the air. His voice was a bit unsteady due to his failing health, but still strong, he took a call from fellow animal-lover Doris Day, and joked with her about dancing with her mother! He finished the broadcast with a jolly anecdote about interviewing Eleanor Roosevelt, in which she told George, “Now don’t let me get too high and squeaky, my voice always gets too high when I get excited, just wave me down when I do that.” George chuckled as he remembered how he had to do just that. Then he signed off with a “see you then”. That was the last time he would ever say those words on the air. Chuck Wilder joked that the Glendale fire department wouldn’t let him light George’s birthday cake! Goodbye, George.

The comics this week are, the last two pages of “Mangy’s Blues”, by Cathy Hill. Mangy is tossed out by Virgil, gets her dinner, rejects her dinner (cats do that), and then decides to spread her greatness around to the other raccoons some more, making a circular conclusion to the story. We will start a new Mangy tale next week, I hope you enjoy them. MARVELOUS MIKE this week (10/8 to 10/13/1956) continues the “Big Donation” quiz program story. Clifford Crump, suffering from amnesia, actually has a conversation with Mike. Mike feels safe, knowing Cliff will recover eventually from his amnesia and forget all about his son’s power of speech. Mike agrees to provide the answers in the quiz to his “dad”, look for yourself! In Krazy Kat (2-27 to 3/4/1939), I call the story line: “Watch the Birdie”, as Pupp tries to distract Ignatz from his terra cotta tossing with birds, mechanical and otherwise. Felix the Cat re-appears in the last page of “A Biscuit, A Basket” from #7, gee, Kitty’s a good sport about her cooking! In the first page of what turned out to by Jim Tyer’s final Felix story, “Looks Are Deceiving” (Felix #8), Kitty and Pussyfoot co-star. Kitty is really getting Boop-ish in this story. I wonder if John Stanley wrote these? Remember, you may leave comments right here, or write me at blogmolasses@att.net.

Blogged Agin!

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

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Hi again, Readers!

Don’t forget the big “Save The Eagle Rock” event this coming weekend, Sept. 13th and 14th at the GLAD center, 2222 Laverna Ave. in Eagle Rock CA 90041. Please help the old Rock to survive the developer’s wrecking ball, and buy a painting or a plant! You will hear and see musicians playing classical compositions on woodwind instruments and painters painting classical images on wooden easels! Saturday’s hours are 10 AM to 4 PM and Sunday’s are 10AM to 6  PM, with the big Gala celebration to follow. You can donate $35.00 for the big celebration, this gets you champagne and hors d’ouvres. I would like to meet my readers in person (I’ll be there on Sunday with my talented wife, Cathy Hill).

In tribute to the late Bill Melendez is a comic strip commemorating his vocal talents doing Snoopy’s howls and yips. It is from a Hollywood Reporter special issue on animation from 1992. It says “Apologies to Don Albrecht” on the edge of panel 8. Does anyone know who that was? My guess is that Albrecht was a cartoonist who first drew the basic idea that this page is based on. Bill will be sadly missed in the cartoon biz, funny storyteller, tremendously versatile animator; able to eat a whole jar of red hot yellow chilies without even a glass of water to wash them down ( I saw him do it!).

The comics this week are pages 4 and 5 of “Mangy’s Blues” by Cathy Hill. Mangy keeps bugging the racoons Virgil and Uncle Erf with her never-ending need to be noticed. MARVELOUS MIKE this week is from 10/1 to 10/6/1956. Cliff Crump is so intent on studying up for his appearance on “The Big Donation” quiz program, that he doesn’t look where he’s going,  bumps his head and gets amnesia! Krazy Kat does six strips (2-20/2-25-1939) on the “walking under a ladder” superstition. Offissa Pupp and Ignatz use a ladder to get into and out of jail, I love the elephant in the 2/25. Felix proudly brings up the rear in the next two pages of “A Biscuit, A Basket” from Felix #7. I love the strange anatomy on Kitty in the second page as she talks to Felix on the telephone, her legs are really lost behind her red skirt, Jim Tyer didn’t believe in sketching the body before putting the clothes on it! (It’s funnier that way.) See you in Eagle Rock!

You may leave comments here on the blog, or write me at blogmolasses@att.net.

Happy Jerry Lewis Day!

Monday, September 1st, 2008

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Well it’s Jerry Lewis day here in the old USA! I think they should change the name of the holiday from Labor Day (all the jobs are outsourced anyway) to Jerry Lewis Day. I watch at least part of the telethon each year to see to what extent poor Mr. Lewis has deteriorated from the previous telethon. He is not fat this year, he looks thin and emaciated, and very out of breath at the beginning of the show (great kid singers and tapdancers by the way at the start). My wife thought he looked a bit like Fred Astaire at times. There are a lot of “Report to the Chairman” sections this year, MDA is getting very serious about telling just how much (or how little) progress is being made toward a “cure” for Neuromuscular Diseases. It seems like they know what causes the more than forty such ailments, but are approaching them from a “more powerful drugs” standpoint than a cell or DNA gene-splicing attack. Our beloved President is standing squarely in the way of the stem-cell research that could make a “cure” for those forty diseases POSSIBLE!  I wonder how strongly MDA tried to lobby against the ban on stem-cell research? Or are they content to just drain off the millions they collect each year into big pharms’ pockets? I like the seriousness and sobriety that Jerry displays as he listens patiently to the doctors explaining a lot of complex medical information to his telethon audience. I wonder if the “kid” in Lewis wants to break the doctors up every once in a while? This is not to denigrate Mr. Lewis for his over 43 year devotion to the “cause”, I really love and admire the guy. His Al Jolson medley this year was very poignant. Jerry squinted, sweated and grunted his way though “Mammy” and “Rock-A-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody”, as the band seamlessly covered his tempo variance. I hope to see him sing “When You Walk Though A Storm” once more at the end of the broadcast. For the first time, thanks to AT&T’s digital video recorder, I can “tape” the entire broadcast and “troll for Lewis” by scanning through the hours at high speed! If you can get AT&T UVerse by all means sign up. Every channel is flawless, and the DVR that comes with the service is incredible, I can’t tell the difference between the live broadcast and the recording! Sometimes I get confused which one I’m watching. At last we dumped Charter Communications cable “service”, just in time as it turns out! We just got a “new channel line-up” notice from them that they are moving Turner Classic Movies (our favorite channel) to a higher digital “tier”, so we would have been forced to go to their more expensive service to keep what we already had! AT&T even has the Boomerang channel (no commercials on this one), which has a couple of interesting programs, “The Boomerang Zoo” which features mostly old Hanna-Barbera animal cartoons such as Yakky Doodle (Fibber Fox is funny!) and Loopy De Loop. They show old H-B sitcoms like “The Jetsons” (cut-down), Tom and Jerry cartoons and “The MGM Show” which runs the Avery, Harman-Ising and Barney Bear pictures. Did I say the picture was flawless?

    This just in, Jerry Lewis raised over $65,000,000 for MDA this year! His dialog with the little ambassador girl, Amy I think her name was, toward the end of the show was very heart-felt. It’s so sad that so few of these children live to be very old. Jerry did a good job on “When You Walk Through A Storm” and must have shuffled off the stage tired and happy. As Amy said, “You got your dollar more.”

      If you like Golden Age Funny Comics, head on over to www.stanleystories.blogspot.com  and read some nice-looking scans of early John Stanley comics. I didn’t know that Stanley wrote for so many diverse characters besides the Little Lulu gang. There are Peterkin Pottle, Oswald the Rabbit, Andy Panda, Woody Woodpecker, Nellie the Nurse and even our own Krazy Kat! YOW! This blog is the work of Frank M. Young of Seattle WA., who really has a great love and appreciation for John Stanley and the old funnybooks. You don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars to read 1940s Golden Age books, just visit Stanley Stories, tell Frank that “The Cat” sent you.

Our comics this week are, the next two pages of “Mangy’s Blues” by Cathy Hill, Cathy even developed a “cat language” for this story lettered in symbols. MARVELOUS MIKE’s homework service is curtailed, but the schoolboard thinks that Cliff Crump is the genius in the family and enters him in a TV quiz show! Remember in 1956 that quiz shows were top draws and got into a lot of scandal. Krazy Kat has a continuity with Ignatz and a “tecolote” (Spanish for “owl”). There is a lot of cactus by-play this week. Felix winds up the “Clothes Make The Cat” story from Felix #6, and starts “A Biscuit-A Basket” from #7. Kitty is quite managerial in these stories, in the “Biscuit” story she sports a heart in her hair. These are by Jim Tyer, in case you hadn’t guessed.

Didja notice that WordPress has turned on the comments again? Let’s see if I can manage them better this time. You can also email me at blogmolasses@att.net.