The Christmas Post 2011

whistling-wizard-album-cover.jpg Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah to all my readers! The record cover pictured here is one of those childhood memories that refuse to leave the brain. The song “Practice Makes Perfect”, on side two, sung by Bil Baird as The Dooley, pops into my mind almost every week, mostly unbidden. If you listen to the record:, you will hear Practice Makes Perfect about half-way in, the record runs six minutes. Please excuse the hum in the background, as this was recorded off Cathy’s old turntable at 78RPM. My mother must have bought this record for me when I was two or three years old. She probably sang “Practice Makes Perfect” along with the record to encourage me to practice the piano. In those days I had a little 78 phonograph that was shaped like a tall cylinder with stars on the side of it, and with a rather large tone arm that probably damaged the records as I played them. I loved repetition, and literally played most of my records to death. Thanks to Ebay, I found a beat-up, but still playable copy, and the memories came flooding back. I remembered “Practice Makes Perfect” as a lot more shrill and silly than it is here, but the melody and most of the lyrics are the same as I remember. The shrill overtones that I thought were on there might have come from the tinny little amplifier of the old Star sided record player. “The Whistling Wizard” was one of the few Big Golden Records releases, most Golden Records were little. It featured the cast of the first color television series, broadcast on CBS in 1951. The color system used, “field sequential”, was cumbersome and ultimately not adopted for regular telecasts. There don’t seem to be any kinescopes available of the show, certainly none in color, and I can’t remember if I ever saw it broadcast or not.  I loved Bil Baird’s marionette and hand puppet designs, especially Heathcliff the horse and Charlemagne, the lion. Charlemagne later on morphed into Champy the Lion, who starred on the old Wheaties TV commercials from 1956. Baird’s puppets looked like a combination of Tony Sarg (Bil’s mentor) and Eastern European puppet design. Baird’s first show before “Wizard”, was “Life With Snarky Parker” directed by Yul Brynner. Heathcliff the talking horse was a holdover from Snarky’s show. Baird was a big deal on TV in the mid-1950s before the puppet world was eclipsed by Jim Henson’s Muppet designs. Baird did a couple of specials with Art Carney, one of which was “Art Carney Meets Peter and the Wolf”. Copies are available of that one, and the marionette work was impressive, especially the wolf. Carney really entered the spirit of the story and made the puppets seem even more alive by his very warm relationship with them. Look around on You Tube for it.

A while ago, I experimented with reading Dorothy Parker and other stories aloud, and making them available on the blog. They weren’t too popular, maybe I’m not much of a reader, but here’s a “Christmas Leftover” that I’m handing out, Chapter 24 of Felix Salten’s “Bambi”. In Salten’s original, Bambi does not live happily ever after with Faline, and the old Stag is almost at the end of his life. Bambi’s father takes Bambi to a lonely place in the forest where a man has died as the result of a shooting accident. As he observes the bleeding corpse, Bambi learns that man is not all-powerful, as many of the animals believed, but vulnerable, and capable of being killed like all the other creatures of Earth. This idea isn’t featured in the Disney cartoon; Salten’s story is quite a lot darker. If you care to hear me read it: Click over to and listen. It runs 7.40 minutes or so.

barker-bill-11-1-54.jpgbarker-bill-11-2-54.jpgbarker-bill-11-3-54.jpgbarker-bill-11-4-54.jpgbarker-bill-11-5-54.jpgbarker-bill-11-6-54.jpgbarker-bill-11-8-54-peg.jpgbarker-bill-11-9-54.jpgbarker-bill-11-10-54.jpgbarker-bill-11-11-54.jpgbarker-bill-11-12-54.jpgbarker-bill-11-13-54.jpg Barker Bill from 11-1 to 11-13-1954, comes to us by courtesy of Yowp, remember to click on the Blogroll to your right to access his two fine blogs, Yowp and Tralfaz. Bill discovers the Gelt from the African Veldt in the beginning of the story that I started two posts ago with greatly inferior copies of the strips. The missing episodes are now filled in, and we will continue the money-eating Gelt’s adventures next post.

felix-4-22-35.jpgfelix-4-23-35.jpgfelix-4-24-35.jpgfelix-4-25-35.jpgfelix-4-26-35.jpgfelix-4-27-35.jpgfelix-4-28-35.jpg Felix, from 4-22 to 4-28-1935, is hauled away to the Ape’s den. Felix makes his escape from the den, and is picked up by Danny and the ship’s crew. In a silhouette panel that reminds me of the movie “King Kong”, the Ape sneaks aboard ship in the 4-27, and takes Felix to his den once more. In the Sunday, Felix is still in Dreamland, and escapes from the Giant by bouncing away with the help of the eraser end of a giant pencil!

krazy_vintage3-3-41.gifkrazy_vintage3-4-41.gifkrazy_vintage3-5-41.gifkrazy_vintage3-6-41.gifkrazy_vintage3-7-41.gifkrazy_vintage3-8-41.gif Krazy, from 3-3 to 3-8-41, features one storyline for the week: “The Duel”. Don Kiyoti encourages Offissa Pupp to fight a duel with Ignatz after Ignatz defiantly snaps his fingers at the Pupp. Don Kiyoti serves as Pupp’s second and Ignatz’s wife and kids serve as the Mouse’s seconds, thirds, fourths and fifths. The duel ends in a brick toss which misses Offissa Pupp and hits….should I tell you?

patrick-1-3-to-1-7-67.jpg Patrick, from 1-3 to 1-7-1967, really has a Schulz flavor this time. Elsa and Suzie’s antics in the 1-5 remind me of Violet and Patty, if a bit more manic, and Patrick’s loan company reminds me of Lucy’s Psychiatry Booth, and even more of Skippy’s various businesses in the 1930s. I don’t remember if Skippy threatened Marquis de Sade tactics on his clients, but maybe Percy Crosby didn’t think Skippy should be that precocious. Stay away from undercooked Christmas Goose folks, and recycle your wrapping paper. We’ll see you again after Ol’ Sam Nicholas has returned to the Toy Factory.

3 Responses to “The Christmas Post 2011”

  1. I’m beginning to appreciate “Krazy Kat” more from your blog postings. Thanks for putting those up. I oughta check out the original “Bambi” story. No surprise that the Disney version was lighter than the original!

    I got your Christmas card, by the way. Love the Toonerville Trolley!

  2. Will says:

    Hi Mark. Merry Christmas and Happy Noo Yeer to you & yern. I really enjoyed the songs on the record, although I am a few years too “young” to recall the shows they were from. Snarky (any relation to Dorothy?) Parker and Charlemane were warmly and frequently referenced by my departed Mom & Dad however.
    Still relishing the Garge strips, with so many of the Sunday’s in print it is a joy to have you posting the dailies, which have their own rhythm and relishments…

  3. Mark says:

    Hi Will and Charles,
    I’m so glad you like the “Garge” dailies, it’s especially interesting to have more time with the Coconino supporting cast, such as Don Kiyoti and Mimi, who weren’t in many Sunday pages. Thanks for listening to the Whistling Wizard record, Will. I was only a baby when the shows were broadcast, but Charlemane as “Champy” appeared on the Wheaties commercials frequently as featured on the Mouse Club program. I sent in for a Champy hand puppet, which was pushed by Bil Baird himself on a few spots. I wore it out putting on puppet shows.

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