Monday, April 30, 2012

Musical Mondays - Katharine Hepburn in "Coco"

I have always admired the work of Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel. She was the first designer to truly liberate women and single-handedly shaped the look of the 1920s. So many of the things we consider "staples" in our wardrobes came from her. She was an amazing designer and an amazing woman to boot.

If ever a woman gave fewer f@%*s, I don't know of her.
I have also always enjoyed discovering new and obscure musicals and plays.

Look up the Broadway cast on Youtube. You will love it.
What I enjoy more than both of those things is finding a way to combine two things that I enjoy. Clearly, what I'm getting at is a combination of an obscure musical and Coco Chanel, right? Right.

"What's that, you say? The person writing this article
must be some sort of huge gay nerd, you say?"
The story itself isn't phenomenal. It's a largely fictionalized take on Chanel's comeback in 1953, as Chanel gets involved in the love life of one of her young workers and inevitably flashbacks on her own love life (again, largely fictionalized)... Basically if you took the Lifetime Chanel movie and "Coco Before Chanel" and added music, you'd have this. Normally I wouldn't even be bothered to look up something with a plot that mediocre, but there was the tiny detail of Katharine Hepburn playing the title character.

Both Katharine and I were ambivalent about the idea. The part had originally been imagined for Rosalind Russell, who is most famously known for *ahem* squawk-blocking Ethel Merman out of a part in the movie version.

Pictured: mixed feelings.
I say "squawk" because that's about all Russell could do, especially compared to a voice such as Ethel Merman's, but a bout of arthritis made it impossible for Russell to continue, so the producers went with yet another actress who is not known for her signing, Katharine Hepburn. It was a fair choice and she does a marvelous job, but what really struck audiences was the production design: A complex reproduction of Chanel's mirrored staircase, rotating backdrops and hidden entrances. The show won the Tony for Costume Design but not much else.

Really though, if you don't at least get a nomination you'd
 have to question your abilities as a costume designer.
All of this rigmarole is really just an excuse to show you a bunch of pretty dresses. Remember that Tony I mentioned? Well, the finale of the show is a lengthy lament by the designer about forsaking love for her work (groan) but the number features a procession of Chanel repros from 1918-1959. Check it out - you can always skip to 4:20 to get right to the dresses:

Impressive, eh? What do you think of the whole thing? Should they have gone with a different actress for the lead role? Tell me in the comments below.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Frightening Fridays - The Fuccons

The japanophiles among you will probably have heard of Vermilion Pleasure Night, a short-lived variety show from 2000 which featured such sketches as Cathy's House, Midnight Cooking, and the NSFW One Point English Lesson. The automatonophobes out there may have also stumbled onto the following skits, then subsequently hit the back button and immediately called their therapists. The Fuccons is the story of a mid-century American Family that moves to Japan and learns about a new culture. If that sounds like a cheerful, heart-warming story it's only because I've yet to tell you that all the parts are played by the most terrifying department store mannequins you will ever see:

Did I mention they occasionally like to break out into bouts of uncontrollable, psychotic laughter? To be fair, once you ignored their fixed, maniacal grins and their dead, soul-less eyes, it's a pretty funny set of skits. I could only find one other English Dub, but the Japanese originals are plentiful on Youtube.

Pictured: The Last thing you will ever see.
Equally as nightmare-inducing, if not more so, is Juvenile Delinquent Takako, where a young human girl lives in a universe otherwise comprised of living mannequins. Not only that, but these mannequins seem to have the ability to physically abuse her.

Pictured: Trauma. Lots and lots of trauma.
Granted, she seems easily capable of defending herself, but can you imagine the existential terror that is living among dead-eyed store mannequins? It's no small wonder she's become a Juvenile Delinquent. I wouldn't last a day. Just remember: don't blink. Sweet dreams, readers!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thwarted Thursdays - Lois Lane

Surprise, surprise, I've once again been beaten by one of the technologies I've come to depend on. This time, though, I admit this was mostly my fault. I decided to add color at the last minute which turned an hour-long project into an almost-all-nighter... because I'm a masochist.

Anyway, enjoy!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Afternoon Animations - A Gentlemen's Duel

I'm trying to be a little bit more liberal about what I post here. I used to have a bit of a hang-up about simply sharing content created by other people, but I'm starting to realize that I'm just missing the opportunity to share some really great stuff with you, dear readers. Therefore, here is a truly delightful Blur Studio animation I found - A little something for the Steampunk aficionados out there:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Good Ol' Dear Ol' Dad - The Exception that Proves the Rule

It's been a while, but here's the second installment of "Good Ol' Dear Ol' Dad", with guest writer - My father!

"The passing of Dick Clark this week at age 82 may constitute final and conclusive proof for human mortality.  In Philosophy 101, many of us were taught the most basic of logical syllogisms:

1.     All men are mortal.
2.     Socrates is a man.
3.     Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

For several generations of TV viewers and music lovers, Dick Clark added a new twist to deductive logic by seeming never to age.  So the syllogism came to read something like this:

1.     All men are mortal.
2.     Dick Clark is immortal.
3.     Therefore, Dick Clark is not Socrates.

Clark with the A.B. audience.
Clark is probably best remembered as the host of the TV show “American Bandstand,” which earned him the sobriquet of “America’s oldest teenager.” The moniker proved to be prescient in terms of Clark’s eerie agelessness—a “fact” that it’s tempting to hypothesize subliminally convinced his mainly baby-boomer audience that they, too, were perhaps indestructible, but this is not something I’d presume to lay at the feet of the perpetually boyish Clark.  And, though I clearly remember seeing “Bandstand” in the early sixties as a child, I will leave its virtues and vices to other commentators.  (The program did give me an opportunity to play a puerile practical joke on some visiting teenage girl cousins one summer afternoon, circa 1962; I leaned out the back door to yell out to them in the yard where they were chatting with a neighborhood friend, “Quick!  Chubby Checker is on ‘American Bandstand!’” The three screamed and ran into the house so fast that one of them lost the tip of a high heel in the grass.  As penance for my prank, I was made to help in the fruitless search for the heel tip after they learned to their dismay that Checker was not in fact on Clark’s program that day.)

Collage of Clark from 1950s-1990s
Clark’s seeming changelessness became something of a national touchstone, and his name became synonymous with eternal youth.  I recall my brother at a family reunion some 20 years ago referring to a cousin and contemporary of ours, who had remained seemingly unchanged in the years since we had last seen him, as, “The Dick Clark of Bedford, Pennsylvania.”

Clark, on the Pyramid
In the course of his long career as a TV host and producer, Clark emceed one of my favorite game shows, “The $100,000 Pyramid.” That program had two teams, each consisting of a celebrity guest and contestant partner, vying to guess a category of things from a list of component parts.  In the lightning round, one team member had to get the other to correctly identify six progressively trickier categories in the space of a minute.  (Contestants often sat on their hands, as they were prohibited from gesturing to provide non-verbal clues.)  It was a good, lively, brain-teasing show.  Arguably the best part, though, was when, at the end of a lightning round where a team had failed to guess all the categories in the pyramid, the suave Clark would cross over to the bull pen where the losing team was seated, perch one leg on the step up, lean on the railing, and in a kindly manner lead the contestants through a few additional clues to help them come up with the answer they’d missed—often suggesting a couple of clues they hadn’t thought of—enabling them, if not to win the jackpot, at least to save face.  In that sense, Clark, ever diplomatic, taught millions of Americans the value of losing gracefully.

Clark aged only when he suffered a debilitating stroke, but then, once again, became the exception that proved the rule by fighting tenaciously back against stroke-related paralysis and speech impediments to continue as an on-air TV host, most notably as the anchor of the annual TV coverage of New Year’s Eve in Times Square, right up to the current year.  Though visibly older (but still not within binocular distance of his chronological age), measured of speech, and only a trifle frail looking, he still exuded a certain brio that made him “America’s youngest senior citizen.”

You could not help but root for such a trouper. - Good Ol', Dear Ol' Dad"

Our thoughts go out to the Clark family.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Witty Wednesdays - (Delayed)

The wonders of technology never cease to amaze; nor do its shortcomings cease to enrage. What I'm trying to say is, my scanner crapped out on me last night so I was unable to put up my weekly comic until now. Here it is: Wintour of Our Discontent.

Hopefully the printer will stop giving me grief and these will go up uninterrupted from now on.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mad Men Drinking Game

Since the Season Five premiere of Mad Men a few weeks ago, I've been looking around for a good Mad Men drinking game. However, I found most of them to be either too vague or far too specific, so I decided to have a go at creating my own.

Before I show you the game itself, it's important that you start off with the right drink. the AMC website actually has a pretty terrific cocktail guide that should serve as your menu for the night's revelries.

Feel free to share this with your friends and let me know what you think if you get a chance to try it! I hope you enjoy next week's episode, and always remember to drink responsibly.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tweets From Titanic

I'd like to think of myself as one of the biggest Titanic fans out there, but it's been a while since I buffed up on my Titanic trivia. Watching the NatGeo special really put me in my place... Besides, I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who are not only bigger fans than I, but will also appreciate my little project for this week: Tweets From Titanic.

In celebration of the 100th Anniversary, I've decided to poke some fun at the tragedy with a series of real-time Tweets from real and fictional Titanic Passengers.

If you'd like to join in on the fun, follow @TwtsFromTitanic and enjoy.

As a disclaimer, I would like to say that though the mood of these tweets will definitely be more tongue-and-cheek, it is not intended to demean or undermine the extreme tragedy of this disaster. So, please take these jokes with a grain of salt.

Stay Tuned for more... Tweets from Titanic!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Witty Wednesdays - Mawwige.

Mawwige is what bwings us togevvar today. I decided for this Witty Wednesday I would try out a style of comic I saw recently, where the comic panels were separate sticky notes. I seemed rather charming so I hope it works out! Yes, this one is a bit more political than I'm going to do on a regular basis, but I wanted to kick things off with something a bit more hot-button.

Let me know what you think in the comments! Remember, Witty Wednesdays update every week.

Hope you're all having a good spring break.