June 29, 2007

"Waterfalls"

A gentle Paul McCartney ballad from his first solo album after Wings, McCartney II. The song has a stripped-down sound, with McCartney only playing a synthesizer and singing. It was released as a single with "Check My Machine" as its B-Side. (Wikipedia entry)

"Waterfalls" was originally entitled, "I Need Love". Paul's house in Kent is called "Waterfalls," and the song was written before recording of the McCartney II album, and it shows. Outside of "Coming Up," it is by far the strongest song off of the mostly "experimental" McCartney II (1980).

As with the McCartney album of 10 years earlier, Paul played all of the instruments, except for Linda's backing vocals on the last song ("One of These Days"). McCartney recorded it without a mixing console, with all microphones plugged directly into the back of a 16 track tape machine. And in almost every case, Paul laid down backing tracks with bass, drums and guitar and added the vocals subsequently (technical info. from this site).

The relatively obscure video he made for "Waterfalls" shows what this recording setup could have looked like (at the beginning and end):

June 28, 2007

Creed Thoughts

First there was "the Beaver letter." Now Shorpy has revealed the contents of the document Jim is highlighting during the opening credits of "The Office" (click on pic):
You might think it would have something to do with the Dunder Mifflin paper company's Scranton branch, but actually it's a Los Angeles Department of City Planning (zoning) document showing revisions to the L.A. Municipal Code. Specifically, Section 12.22.C.20(f).

After seeing "the Beaver letter," I intended to do a similar thing by getting a screencap of whatever insane things Creed writes at his "blog," "Creed Thoughts" (www.creedthoughts.gov.www/creedthoughts). Shorpy has already done that, as well (I was the "Anonymous Tipster" who asked Dave about it in the comments, and he came through!):



One night with Elvis


For Elvis Collectors Only (click on "Candid Central") has updated its Candid Central section with some fantastic pictures:

At Frank Senne's Moulin Rouge in Los Angeles with Kitty Dolan on March 11, 1958 (pic and caption from For Elvis Collectors Only)

Here's what the Moulin Rouge looked like, by the way:

From The US Gen Web Project

At designer Sy Devore's October 31, 1957, Halloween party with actress Jeanne Carmen, dressed as a "squaw" (pic and caption from For Elvis Collectors Only; click here to see a picture featuring Jeanne's assets)

Jeanne Carmen was/is quite a broad. The sometimes called "Queen of the B-Movies" got around, and she has held up amazingly well (the wonders of good plastic surgery):

Jeanne & Tony Curtis at his wedding to Jill Vandenberg: MGM Grand Hotel: penthouse suite: Las Vegas, Nevada (pic and caption from her official site)

June 27, 2007

"Now You Has Jazz"

The lily-white album cover

From High Society (1956), here are Bing Crosby with Louis Armstrong and his All Stars (Edmond Hall, Trummy Young, Billy Kyle, Arvell Shaw, and Barrett Deems) doing one the film's many Cole Porter tunes, "Now You Has Jazz":





June 26, 2007

#95 on the AFI's list

Sonny ponders existence to the tune of "Wild Side of Life"

Looking through the AFI's top-100 movies list, I saw (as I'm sure everyone did) many of my favorite movies of all time (duh). Among the nineteen classic films to be added to the list since 1998 (23 films dropped out of the top hundred) was one I really like, The Last Picture Show (1971). Just as with each of the films on the list, The Last Picture Show has a quality about it that results in its transcending the medium of cinema. Like other great works of art, the movie (its scenes, story, characters, setting, soundtrack, cinematography, etc.) gives voice to those things difficult to put into words.

There are several scenes from The Last Picture Show that do this, and I tried to point them out in the post I did about it. But I repost this one specific moment/scene, if for any other reason, because I want to test out Blogger's new video upload feature.

Red River (1948), the last picture show

A movie reviewer named Neil Young (not the singer) at Jigsaw Lounge says of this scene, and others:

Time after time, everything comes brilliantly together: the visuals, the remarkable, restrained use of period music, and the performances by the large cast. The film is like the flip-side of American Graffiti (#62 on the AFI list), George Lucas’s gaudy-neon, energetic blast of rock-fuelled early-sixties Californian nostalgia. Impressive as it is, Lucas’s romp seems adolescent and puny alongside The Last Picture Show, shot in timeless black-and-white by cinematographer Robert Surtees: when Sonny looks over the Anarene skyline by night, clouds hovering in the dark sky, it’s one of the most lyrical landscape shots in American movies.

And here is that shot/scene/moment/artistic expression (mashed with a similar scene in another film by Lucas, #13 on the AFI list):

video

Calvert

Calvert, Texas (population: 1,426), is 9 miles NW of Hearne, 28 miles NW of Bryan, 33 miles NW of College Station, and 55 miles SE of Waco.

See a
slideshow.

From TexasEscapes.com:

The town’s namesake, Robert Calvert, established a plantation around 1850. In 1873 a severe yellow fever epidemic killed many in the community. In 1899 the town suffered floods and in 1891 a fire burned much of the town’s center.

For the last 35 years Calvert has enjoyed a relative success as an antique “capital.” Steady traffic on Highway 6 and the towns halfway position between Waco and Bryan / College Station has helped.

Calvert’s buildings, if not totally restored have at least been kept up and present an attractive row of 19th century buildings. The length of main street is evidence of the town’s prosperous history...




Any town that has ceramic bowls embedded in a wall and a bright yellow sculpture of a person on a bicycle (which I'm pretty sure wasn't real) is all right with me.


The Eloia Theatre was named after the owner's wife, Eloise. A fire destroyed much of the theater in the late 1940s, but a subsequent renovation modernized the facility.







June 25, 2007

"Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)"

Original Byrds line-up in 1965 - Chris Hillman, David Crosby, Michael Clarke, Roger McGuinn, and Gene Clark

From Wikipedia entry:

"Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)," often abbreviated to "Turn! Turn! Turn!," is a song written by Pete Seeger, wherein Seeger set text from the Bible to music, specifically, a reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes, 3:1–8. Although he wrote it in the 1950s, Seeger waited until 1962 to record it, releasing the song on his The Bitter and The Sweet album on Columbia Records. A famous version is the chart-topping single by The Byrds, released in October of 1965, and one of the defining records of the entire decade.

This was the second #1 hit for The Byrds (after "Mr. Tambourine Man"). Here they are on "Toast of the Town" (Ed Sullivan's show) on December 12, 1965 (a Sunday). And a broadcast quality stereo footage version of that same performance is available at YouTube. McGuinn really looked like a byrd bird!


In 1990, about a year before being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Chris Hillman, David Crosby, and Roger McGuinn reunited for a Roy Orbison tribute concert. They did "Mr. Tambourine Man," with Dylan, and a great version of "Turn! Turn! Turn!":

June 23, 2007

And when she shines she really shows you all she can

The Rio Theater in Center, Texas. It opened in 1926 and was originally called the Shelby Theater. The name was shortened to RIO in part due to the high cost of neon during the Depression. It still shows first run movies, as you can see. It is one of the oldest, single screen theaters in Texas still in operation.

June 22, 2007

Heritage is more important than the bottom line

pic by Christine

It turns out Houston may have a soul, after all. The nearsighted momentum to raze and pave over two of its priceless treasures, the River Oaks Theatre and the Art Deco Alabama Theatre (currently the Bookstop), may have slowed. There are plans to designate both as landmarks, providing a tax break that could discourage their demolition.

Michael Stravato for The New York Times

Meanwhile, here in Naconowhere, the recently restored (damaged as the result of Hurricane Rita) neon of the SFA Theater blazes away (taken Tuesday morning):

Ain't it purty?

Back in the saddle, again


From IndianaJones.com (via Ain't It Cool News):

Photo by Steven Spielberg

For the first time since 1989, Harrison Ford dons the familiar costume on Thursday, June 21, 2007, as the upcoming Indiana Jones adventure begins production under the direction of Steven Spielberg. The new Indiana Jones movie is set in the 1950s and stars Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett, John Hurt, Ray Winstone and Jim Broadbent. The Lucasfilm Ltd. production will be released by Paramount Pictures worldwide on May 22, 2008.

I just hope they axed the CGI whip idea.

McCartney in NYC

Michael Falco for The New York Times

Last Wednesday (June 13), Paul McCartney performed for 90 minutes on stage at the Highline Ballroom for an audience who heard about the show only a day or two before. The gig was obviously a promotion for his new album, Memory Almost Full, and he put on the same show at a club in London the week before. He has not announced plans for any kind of actual tour.


From the The New York Times review:

The onlooker’s stupid reflex, after decades of Beatlesology and Paul-versus-John studies, is to scrutinize Mr. McCartney for honesty, whatever that is. But all he had to do was play a few songs alone with guitar—”Blackbird” and “I’ll Follow the Sun”— and he seemed as guileless as the next guy. Later, alone at the piano, he sang “Here Today,” an elegiac song he wrote after John Lennon’s death, and dedicated it to “our fallen heroes: John, George and Linda.”

When he finished, he stopped the flow of his own efficiency, and thought out loud. “It’s good to play that song in the town John loved,” he said. “And where Linda was born in. And where we played the Ed Sullivan show.”


You've seen McCartney's iTunes + iPod ad to promote his catalog becoming available? I look at it as being a sort of psychedelic walk through Pepperland (the Liverpool of his childhood, at least), whilst singing his new single:

June 21, 2007

The Black Hole

I saw Disney's The Black Hole back in 1979 when it first came out. A plot summary from Ultimate Disney:

In the late 1970s, The Black Hole was the Disney studio's full-force venture to make a sci-fi epic, coming on the heels of Star Wars. From the bombastic opening overture and impressively elaborate, high-tech opening credits, you expect a grand-scale space opera and on the surface, it appears to be that.


I was very much into Star Wars (1977) at the time, so I definitely would have been part of the target audience for The Black Hole. It may have been the last Disney movie (before Pixar) that I saw in a theater. The Wikipedia entry has some interesting info:

Widely regarded as Disney's answer to Star Wars (though work on the film was already underway as early as 1975), at $20 million it was the most expensive picture produced by the company to date. It was generally not well received by critics, although the special effects were highly praised. The movie earned $25 million at the US box office, making it the 13th highest grossing film of the year.

V.I.N.CENT was what you would get if you combined R2D2 and C3PO


The film was nominated for cinematography and visual effects Academy Awards and was notable for being the first Disney film not to have a universal rating, due to mild language (being the first Disney film to include profanity of any type) and scenes of human death never seen in a Disney production before. To that end, it was rated PG in the U.S. (also another first for Disney). Along with frequent subtexts, there were also metaphysical and religious themes expressed through the film, a first for any Disney film. This film led the company towards experimenting with more adult-oriented films, which would eventually lead to the creation of its Touchstone Pictures arm to handle films considered too mature in nature to carry the Walt Disney label.

1980 VHS release from Wikipedia

The Black Hole has been released several times on VHS and DVD. It is actually one of the very first Disney videos ever made, the first release being 1980. Although never a huge hit, it has spawned an avid cult following.

I remember being very frightened by the movie, particularly the robot Maximillian. It looks like the folks at Cracked.com had a similar experience as I did, because Maximillian is #6 on their "The 7 Most Underrated Movie Henchmen" list. They have a great video of it, and this description:

The hulking, vaguely humanoid robot Maximillian was the henchman of Dr. Hans Reinhardt (a villain whose primary character trait, it seems, was having crazy blow-dried hair. In this he excelled). Maximillian is a Swiss army knife of destruction, with laser arms, whirling blade arms, a juicer, a blow-drier (for his boss), more laser arms—you name it, he's got it and is probably going to use it to murder you. Plus, he never says anything; he just stares at you and follows you around—even to the bathroom, waiting patiently outside while you do your business.

Even Maximillian's own boss is a little freaked out by Maximillian. And with good reason: When the shit inevitably hits the fan later in the film, the big red robot leaves Dr. Reinhardt trapped beneath some wreckage and hops into an escape craft. Every robot for himself, sucker!

In the psychedelic ending of The Black Hole, Reinhardt is trapped in Maximillian's body, standing atop an infernal landscape. Owned! Who's the boss now, smart guy? Maximillian—King of Hell, fools!


Taylor

Taylor, Texas (population: 11,472), is 35 NE of Austin. I did Taylor on the same day as Bartlett and Granger.

View a
slideshow

Taylor National Bank Building (c. 1888, Romanesque Revival style)

When I first saw this sign from down the street, I just assumed it was another old single screen movie theater (the other being the Howard), but it turned out to be an old hardware/appliance store (probably). It has a nearly perfect Frigidaire/Maytag neon sign where I would assume people used to load up their large appliances after purchase in the store.



Morning Glory mattresses ghost sign

IOOF Building, c. 1907


The latest incarnation of the Howard Theatre dates from around 1950.