Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Quips and Quotations (Yesterday's Geopolitics Edition)



We could only solve our problems by cooperating with other countries. It would have been paradoxical not to cooperate. And therefore we needed to put an end to the Iron Curtain, to change the nature of international relations, to rid them of ideological confrontation, and particularly to end the arms race.

--Mikhail Gorbachev

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Graphic Grandeur (The Usual Gang of Influencers Edition)



Illustrator Paul Coker Jr's remarkable career rests on three mighty pillars. In the mid-1950s he got hired on at Hallmark Cards and very soon became one of that company's top artists. His scratchy style set a tone for humorous cards that is still widely copied nearly 65 years later. If that wasn't enough, he started contributing to Mad beginning in 1960, and quickly became one of that magazine's mainstay artists. And if that wasn't enough, in the mid-1960s Rankin/Bass Productions asked Coker to design the characters for a stop-motion TV Christmas special titled Santa Claus is Coming to Town. The next year he designed the characters for the more traditionally animated Rankin/Bass TV Christmas special Frosty the Snowman, and just about everything else from that company in the decades since. Though it's his Mad work that I most cherish, the Rankin/Bass productions probably got Coker his widest audience (with the Hallmark cards a close second) and that's also what got him the following 2015 radio interview. Actually, it's kind of a behind-the-scenes radio interview that's a little like an old Bob Newhart routine where you hear only the second half of a phone conversation. But as with Newhart, that's enough:  


Seems like a nice guy. Now those three pillars I mentioned:

Only 122 shopping days until Christmas.






Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Quips and Quotations (Time Heals All Oscars Edition)


June 18, 2022

Dear Sacheen Littlefeather,

I write to you today a letter that has been a long time coming on behalf of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, with humble acknowledgment of your experience at the 45th Academy Awards.

As you stood on the Oscars stage in 1973 to not accept the Oscar on behalf of Marlon Brando, in recognition of the misrepresentation and mistreatment of Native American people by the film industry, you made a powerful statement that continues to remind us of the necessity of respect and the importance of human dignity.

The abuse you endured because of this statement was unwarranted and unjustified. The emotional burden you have lived through and the cost to your own career in our industry are irreparable. For too long the courage you showed has been unacknowledged. For this, we offer both our deepest apologies and our sincere admiration.

We cannot realize the Academy’s mission to “inspire imagination and connect the world through cinema” without a commitment to facilitating the broadest representation and inclusion reflective of our diverse global population.

Today, nearly 50 years later, and with the guidance of the Academy’s Indigenous Alliance, we are firm in our commitment to ensuring indigenous voices—the original storytellers—are visible, respected contributors to the global film community. We are dedicated to fostering a more inclusive, respectful industry that leverages a balance of art and activism to be a driving force for progress.

We hope you receive this letter in the spirit of reconciliation and as recognition of your essential role in our journey as an organization. You are forever respectfully engrained in our history.

With warmest regards, David Rubin
President, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences


Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Vital Viewing (They Go Together Edition)



A little bit country and little bit disco. The above picture says it all.

All well and good, but to properly segue from country to disco, one must first return to...


...the 1950s?

Don't ask me to pick favorites. I like both versions. RIP Olivia.


Sunday, August 7, 2022

Quips and Quotations (Hello, Yellow Brick Road Edition)


In the first half of my life, I was best known as Florenz Ziegfeld's wife. In the second half, they remember me not as the great Ziegfeld's widow, but as Glinda the Good.

--Billie Burke

(Billie is selling herself short, at least when it comes to the "first half" of her life. Far from being just known as Florenz Ziegfeld's wife, she was a star on Broadway even before she met him, and then again in silent films. When talkies came along Billie went from being a leading lady to a character actress, but a highly sought-after character actress. Among the now-classic films she appeared in were A Bill of Divorcement, Dinner at Eight, Topper, The Man Who Came to Dinner, and Father of the Bride. Billie was about 55 when she played Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz. The year was 1939, but it didn't become her signature role until the film began being shown regularly on television, beginning in 1956. Billie Burke died in 1970 at the age of 85--Kirk