Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

As 2008 comes to a close and 2009 beckons brightly, calling us forward into new year filled with hope and promise, I want to wish all of you only the best for the coming twelve months. I have a hunch that 2009 is going to be an extra special one for me, and I hope it will be for you as well.

A big thanks to everyone who has paid a visit to The Blog! this year. Each month has brought an increasing number of new friends to the goofy ramblings and nostalgia-filled fun that we try to serve up to you - so expect more of the same (but better!) in the next 365 days.

In the meantime why not head on over to my Flickr photostream for some wonderful work by Alice and Martin Provensen from their 1965 "Aesop's Fables" classic children's book!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Mele Kaliki Maka!

OHOHO, the Hawaiian God of Christmas says "Mele Kaliki Maka to all you Haole's out there!!!"

And I heartily second and expand Mr. Ho's somewhat gruff, but well-meaning, greeting. Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates (in it's religious or secular versions) and all the very best of the holiday and winter season to everyone else! I hope your home is filled with good tidings, friends & family, and peace & love.

It's a big wish, but sometimes you have to go for the gusto!

All the best - Glen

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Greatest Holiday Movie EVER!

Yes, this is far and away the LEAST likeliest contender, in my candy-cane scented, snow-covered book, for the Greatest Holiday Movie Ever!
I'm sure many of you have already seen this fantastic, faded, 1964 favourite, as it's been knocking around the internet for a couple of years now and has probably been blogged to death already. But since I only discovered it last week for myself I figure there may be some of you too who have yet to experience the scrumptious soufflé of delight and discomfort that is "Santa's Enchanted Village". And if I can touch but one tiny heart this season who has yet to sample the amazingnessmous that is S.E.V., it'll all be worth it.

I was familiar with the concept of this chain of 1950s and 60s Christmas-themed amusement parks from an old copy of a Dennis the Menace comic book (illustrated by one of my art heroes Al Wiseman) wherein the Menace family visits said tourist spot....

But nothing could have prepared me for the worst written, worst photographed, worst acted, worst edited, and worst directed short film I have ever seen. So watch both six minute parts below and be sure to stick with it, it only gets more horrible with each torturous moment!

Think of it as my holiday gift to you all!
You're welcome.

Part 1.....

Part 2.....

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Toys of Christmas' (and maybe one or two birthdays) Past: Part 2

Read Part 1 first if you haven't already whydontcha!?

After two weeks of delays we once again return to my nostalgic look back at favourite playthings from my 1970s past, culled mostly from Christmas morning and birthday afternoon photos otherwise shrouded in the foggy veils of time. But as the world outside my window is now covered in a blanket of new fallen white stuff (there was an explosion at the nearby flour factory again), I'm even more in the mood to talk about.... Toys!

We start this installment with a POLACOLOR© moment from December 25th, 1975 showcasing my dad and seven year old me (okay, just my dad) assembling the Evel Knievel Stunt and Crash Car. Since he had built more than a couple actual, full-size racing cars by hand, and my resume in this area consisted only of automobiles of the Lego variety, I guess I differed to his experience on this matter. I'm not sure if I got the more ubiquitous Stunt Cycle at the same time, or at a later date. But it lasted longer (more than 32 years and counting) than the Stunt car did.

That purple and orange object in the middle left is a dough (not Play, but of the home-made variety) bracelet I made for my mom. She kept it until it was too damaged by water in a bad house fire a few years ago.

Case Study #2: my 8th birthday party, September 1976. Although I was happy to get a big stack of Golden Exploring Earth books (with great covers by Rod Ruth) I think it's safe to say that the Six Million Dollar Man action figure I got that years was at or near the top of my wish list. From that point on I didn't look quite as goofy making all those bionic sound effects on my own.

Well... at least to me.

Exhibit "C": Christmas morning 1973. As my OshKosh B'Goshed sister looks on from the background my dad schools two cousins and I on the finer points of Mark Three gamesmanship. I think my dad secretly wanted me to win this combination of Tic Tac Toe and bowling because we were wearing matching colour shirts.

I don't know whether this next item was a birthday or Christmas present, or even it you could consider it a toy, but it's a gosh-darn cute photo that I promised months ago I'd post and so, dagnabbit, I'm going to! My dad visited the local auction house in our old home town when I was growing up and, consequently, would occasionally bring us home good condition used toys. That's how my sister and I, although born in in '68 and '72, were exposed to toys from a slightly older generation such as Mike Hazard - Double Agent, Major Matt Mason's Cat-Trac, and I'm sure we had this Zeroid.

Included amongst these older toys was one of my most beloved childhood playthings, this 1956 Garton Hot-Rod pedal car. Customized by my mom and dad circa 1970 with padded foam cushion and my name on the side - I drove this thing until the wheels fell off. No, really. The wheels fell off.
As the years went on I asked my dad what had happened to the car but the answers became more and more vague until I finally gave up, thinking that he had trashed it or given it away, broken axle and all.

Then for Christmas (notice theme) about four years ago he showed up with it! He had stored the car away in a garage, finally dug the thing out, welded the axle back on and voila!

Never was I happier to have been re-gifted with my own present! And as an added bonus, here's a close up and background ( can it really be both of those conflicting things? I say YES!) on the spiffy racing helmet I am wearing in this shot.

And so we end this amazingly self-indulgent (but what are blogs for, anyways?) look back at my toys of Christmas' (and maybe one or two birthdays) past with this grainy black and white photograph from 1971 capturing a quiet moment as, wrapped in a warm blanket, my spring horse ("Horsie") and I take a nap. Although on closer inspection it appears my eyes may be open and this was merely a posed shot, I choose to believe this was how I slept every night. Which might explain a few things about me.
But then again I also choose to believe that Francis Ford Coppola stole this idea from me for the famous scene in his 1972 film, The Godfather.

So what do I know.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snow Day!

Although more common during winter in most of the rest of Canada, we don't get much in the way of snow here in downtown Victoria. Once a decade or so there'll be a heavy fall. But many years we won't get any at all. And this early in the season is even more rare. So with temperatures at far below normal this was the scene Victorians awoke to on this lovely December morning.

Now I just have to dig my car out!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"In Concert - Rolf Harris!"

31 years ago this evening you would have found, had you been looking, nine year old me and a couple of family members in the audience at the new Beban Park Auditorium in our old home town town of Nanaimo, B.C. Also there that night was a man who just happened to be hosting a popular half-hour Canadian TV program that year, Rolf Harris. Yep, that kangaroo-tyin'-down, didgeridoo-playin', Stylophone-shillin', artist and musician himself.

The Australian-born, U.K-based entertainer was spending a lot of time in Canada during this period and I well remember the mixture of songs, live giant-sized art, and stories that his variety show featured. I'm assuming his concert performances consisted of the like, since I can only remember a snippet or two - mainly his classic Jake The Peg routine. I do remember I enjoyed myself, and so was happy to run across the above newspaper ad in a copy of the Nanaimo Daily Free Press from December 1977.

Rolf was never as popular in the States as he was in Canada, and his Canadian popularity never approached the success he's had in the U.K. Although fading from Canadian television screens and most people's consciousness as the 80s proceeded (along with fellow international 70s stars with large Canadian fan-bases such as Roger Whittaker and Nana Mouskouri) the talented Mr. Harris' popularity has continued in Britain. Despite a recent slip-up in the press, Rolf's still going strong at 78.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Diggin' Through the Audio Vault

Back in December 2003, long before this here blog, I contributed a post to the WFMU 365 Days Project, a daily audio posting of unusual music and audio from the collections of fans of cool & strange listening pleasures from around the world. Since I've just been made aware of the fact the 2008 marks the 80th anniversary of the first appearance in print ads of The Jolly Green Giant I thought it'd be a swell time to dig up, once again, this auditory oddity. Now all my bloggy friends can ogle this swanky 1949, 6½" 78rpm disc celebrating JGG's 20th birthday (yeah I know... the dates are a bit fuzzy here. But go with me on this willya?...). And best of all - if you follow this link (and click the blue arrow to play) , you can read the whole story, marvel at the wonder that is the B side of this rockin' red record, all whilst (and at the same time) listening to the whole shebang in it's scratchy, scarlet sonoriocity!

Ho, Ho, hold on to your headphones!

With a big thanks to my pal Brian Linds for digitizing this for me - five years later and I still don't have a turntable that plays 78s!

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Moment of Reflection

Forrest J. Ackerman in 1980. Photo courtesy FM..

I have to interrupt the usual frivolity on this blog to mention some sad news in the world of Science Fiction / Fantasy and Horror filmdom today. Forest J. Ackerman, the founder of Famous Monsters of Filmland, coiner the term "Sci-Fi", attendee at the first Science Fiction convention in 1939, author, agent, and the inspiration & discoverer of many of the icons of science fiction such as Ray Bradbury and Ray Harryhausen, passed away on December 4th at the age of 92. It was through FM that I first knew of "Forry" and his tongue in cheek writing style that has had not a small influence on the tone of this very blog. The distinctive look of the that magazine, especially the hand lettering used throughout has had a VERY strong influence on many artists and illustrators including myself.
I was lucky enough to enjoy a few minutes of Forry's company on a couple of occasions in the late 1990s and his undying love for the field he helped shape deservedly gave him the title of #1 fan. His influence on popular culture cannot be underestimated and he will be missed.

Also today news that 1950s pin-up icon Bettie Page has been hospitalized in critical condition after a heart attack. After a decade as a popular pin-up and fetish model Bettie faded from public view in the 1960s only to experience an unexpected resurgence of interest in the 1980s after younger fans, including the late Rocketeer creator Dave Stevens, featured her image in new works.

Our thoughts and best wishes go out to Ms. Page and her friends.

***UPDATE: Friday, December 12th - I'm saddened to have to anounce that Ms. Page passed away yesterday, Thursday the 11th at age 85. I think it's safe to say, however, that her photographs will live on as an influence on pop culture for a very long time.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Toys of Christmas' (and maybe one or two birthdays) Past: Part 1

Since December is officially now here I can start thinking about Christmas. And when I officially start thinking about Christmas I naturally think of Christmas' of the past. And who can't think of Christmas' past without letting their mind drift back to the warm, treasured memories of time spent with family and friends. And who can't think of famili....... oh, forget it... LET'S LOOK AT OLD PICTURES OF TOYS!!!

First up: GNIP GNOP. You heard me correctly... GNIP GNOP!

December 25th , 1971. Apparently there's been a bit of a resurgence of this reversely named wonder recently, but this is the last one I ever saw. It seems my thirteen year old uncle and opponent in mortal Gnip combat had been forewarned of my Christmas gift and decided to dress colour appropriately. Also note cotton batting placed strategically on neighbouring houses to approximate that classic winter look that the people seemed to like so much back then.

December 25th, 1972. Well, one year later and it seems that the age-old rivalry between uncle and ten-year younger nephew hasn't let up one bit. This time though, the gloves have come off. Well... since the Rock'Em Sock 'Em Robots pictured below didn't really need gloves to pugilistically pummel each other's iron housings I guess they never had gloves to begin with. But you get the drift.
Note the thumb-based or "Belotserkovsky" grip used by my uncle, in contrast to the "Whittington" palm style of play I was incorporating at the time. I soon came to realize it's weaknesses in European tournament play though and moved on to the more widely accepted (but since discredited in that notorious 1979 "Rock'em - Shock'em" electrification scandal) "Flurtlepharver" stance.

Flashing forward two years to December 25th 1974 finds me all prepared for a Partridge Family Christmas. Unfortunately it wasn't that Partridge Family - but the Herbert & Ethel Partridge's who lived four houses down. I was quickly ushered back home with Mr. P muttering something about "If they locked him in this wouldn't keep happening!" mixed in my memory to the soundtrack of snow crunching beneath my the soles of my stylin' Eaton's "Young Set" Oxford's with extra vinyl-reinforced uppers.

Big Jim's Sports Camper, however, was to be found under the tree at my house. So we later find me happily inspecting the quality 1970s workmanship of this fine recreational vehicle and accompanying fishing boat. Pretend bathtub fish, watch out!

Which, for no particular reason, leads us back to 1970 and my favourite toy of all time! The one that has served me best for nigh on these past 37 or 38 years of satisfaction and accomplishment. The object that has allowed me to express who I am and which has made me what I am today...

That plastic cup in the lower left.

On the next episode of Glennie's Toy Time: Car jumping horses! (Although the word "and" should probably be in there somewhere).