Amoeblog

"We will not walk in fear, one of another"

Posted by Whitmore, October 19, 2008 09:16am | Post a Comment

I usually don’t write about politics. I find that the best political writing should employ (exploit?) a subtle and sophisticated hand, especially in these days of tightrope walks and frayed nerves that seem to deal better with cardboard emotions than sheets of facts and figures. I am seldom subtle and, unfortunately, never sophisticated. I’m better off subjecting readers to unintelligible flights of fancy and weirdness than operating a scalpel around the lesions of politics lessons.

But even after witnessing this long, never ending line of fear mongering from the right, I was simply bowled over by the most recent hysteria coming from Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann who suggested that major newspapers should investigate other members of Congress to "find out if they are pro-America or anti-America.” (Of course my first thought was, “I thought the media was controlled by the leftist elite, so how could such an investigation actually work … the left will protect their anti-American progeny!” Then again, I think it's only fair that we should start the investigation with Rep. Bachmann -- you know, she who throws the first stone...just to make sure her aim is true?)

Joseph McCarthy. Not exactly our finest moment as a nation. And now, well here we are ... But then out of nowhere, my rarely seen sunny-optimistic side crawled out from beneath my bleak crusty disposition, swatting away my pesky depression in one mighty blow. I suddenly remembered a quote from Edward R. Murrow’s show See It Now and the special episode entitled “A Report on Senator Joseph McCarthy” that aired on the evening of May 9, 1954.   

We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we dig deep in our history and doctrine and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes which were for the moment unpopular. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of the Republic to abdicate his responsibility.”

Mad Magazine Art Auction

Posted by Whitmore, October 17, 2008 06:06pm | Post a Comment


First thing I should mention… in tough economic times, especially when stocks and bonds have been naughty, it’s often been suggested that investing in art makes sound dollar sense. So with my two bits of wisdom said, here’s a suggestion on how to spend your ever dwindling cash cow.

Next month on November 14th three dozen pages of original artwork from MAD Magazine will be put up for auction. The pieces are expected to bring anywhere between 8 to 40 thousand dollars each. Some have estimated that as much as $400,000 dollars will be bid on these artifacts from the 1950’s. Several covers featuring MAD's official mascot -- the grinning, jug-eared boy wonder Alfred E. Neuman -- will be among the 36 items to go on the block in Dallas at the Heritage Auction Galleries, including the first cover drawing of Alfred E. by the legendary artist Norman Mingo. It's from MAD's issue No. 30, from December, 1956. It shows the gap-toothed icon as a write-in candidate for president, saying "What -- me worry?" while in the background an elephant and donkey are locked in mortal battle.

The 36 items up for bid will be previewed at New York's Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art starting on October 29th.

Founded by William Gaines and Harvey Kurtzman in 1952, MAD quickly became one of the most popular magazines of the day with its blend of absurdist, screwball, and irreverent humor -- especially with its clever parodies of Hollywood, political satires, and MAD’s brilliant ability to upend any number of the self-absorbed, bloated nabobs strewn across our pop-cultural highways.

MAD is also the last surviving title from the notorious and critically acclaimed EC Comics line that worried most every parent and teacher back in the 1940’s and 50’s. Concerns stemmed from EC’s infinite array of ghastly stories, violent-prone anti-heroes and gruesome plot twists, no doubt sickening the imaginations of every kid within eyeshot of such horror. Now owned by Warner Brothers Entertainment and subsidiary DC Comics, MAD magazine is published in over 20 countries, and has been adapted as an off-Broadway stage show, as a board game and as television ads for Mountain Dew. Several MAD albums have also been released such as Musically Mad, Mad Disco and Mad Grooves, featuring the flexi-disc hit “It’s a Gas,” and of course the sketch-comedy series, Mad TV, all sharing DNA with the ever distinguished Alfred E. Neuman.

Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs

Posted by Whitmore, September 20, 2008 02:38pm | Post a Comment

In celebration of 50 years of its Hot 100 chart, music industry’s Billboard Magazine has collected its Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs. The list collects the top 100 songs from August 1958 through July 2008 -- and the songs' slots are allotted based on their actual performance on the weekly chart, with an inverse point system figuring into the ranking (i.e. weeks at No. 1 earn greater value than weeks at No. 100).

Lists of the greatest this, or best that, or most influential whatever always irk the crap out of me, though I am perpetually intrigued. Is Citizen Kane or Gone with the Wind the greatest film of all time? I don’t know, but an evening on the couch with some popcorn and a beer watching the Big Lebowski is a hell of a lot more fun. Is Jimmy Stewart the greatest movie star of all time? Of course not, it has to be Cary Grant or maybe Humphrey Bogart, at least that’s what I think, but according to the experts, I am wrong.

Anyway, Drum Roll please … the Number One Single of all time …
Chubby Checker’s “The Twist.”

Now I have to admit I was somewhat stunned to see “The Twist” up there up on top, all by itself. But then again, "The Twist" is the only song ever to go to #1 on two separate chart runs. The first time was on Sept. 19, 1960 for one week, but after Chubby Checker made an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in late 1961, “The Twist” once again hit the spot, this time for two weeks starting on Jan. 13, 1962. It also set a record for the most weeks, 39, on the Hot 100 by a number one song, a record it held until UB40's “Red Red Wine” lasted 40 weeks in 1988.

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George Putnam 1914 – 2008

Posted by Whitmore, September 16, 2008 02:54pm | Post a Comment

If I haven’t mentioned it before at least a dozen times or so, I’m a third generation native Angelino, and obviously a product of the television generation whose earliest childhood memories inevitably revolve around three primary sounds: Earl Shreib commercials - "I'll paint any car, any color, for only twenty-nine ninety-five! Riiiiiiight!”, the legendary voice of Dodger baseball sportscaster Vin Scully and the booming, theatrically stentorian voice of George Putnam, the pioneering  television news anchorman and right wing commentator who was a mainstay of Los Angeles news broadcasting for many a decade. Putnam died last Friday morning at Chino Valley Medical Center. He was 94.

When I was kid my grandfather had his television on constantly and his nightly vigil was Putnam’s newscast. My grandfather ate it all up, every right wing paranoid dramatic declaration; he absolutely trusted everything Putnam said. And of course, Putnam was one of the most influential commentators of the era.
 
In pop-cultural history he is most fondly remembered as the inspiration for fictional newscaster Ted Baxter, Ted Knight's windbag of a character on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Putnam was also famous for his annual Rose Parade ride on his silver-saddled palomino for almost 50 years. In fact I believe it never rained when he rode in the parade … talk about a man with connections!

Putnam began his broadcast career on a Minneapolis radio station in 1934, moved to New York in the 1940’s. In late 1951 he was hired at KTTV, the independent station then owned by Times-Mirror Co., which also owned the Los Angeles Times.  Putnam quickly became a dominant force in Los Angeles TV news. The winner of three Emmy Awards, six California Associated Press Television and Radio Assn. awards and more than 300 other honors, at one point he was reportedly the highest-rated and highest-paid TV news anchor on the Los Angeles’ airwaves. In the mid 1960s, Putnam moved to KTLA Channel 5. Also, Putnam was briefly a co-host on the political news talk show Both Sides Now with comedian Mort Sahl.

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Donald LaFontaine 1940 – 2008

Posted by Whitmore, September 2, 2008 10:32am | Post a Comment


On Monday, September 1, legendary voice actor Donald LaFontaine died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles following complications from pneumothorax. LaFontaine was 68 years old.

You may not recognize his name but you would surely recognize his iconic baritone voice used in over 5000 movie trailers, video game trailers, and something like 750,000 television spots and commercials. For the past 25 years he has been the "King of Voiceovers." Based on the number of contracts signed, LaFontaine has the distinction of being the single busiest actor in the history of the Screen Actors Guild.

He became identified with the ubiquitous trailer-opening phrase "In a world...” something he parodied recently in a commercial for GEICO insurance, using his most ominous and melodramatic voice.

Donald LaFontaine is survived by his actress-singer wife, Nita Whitaker, and three children.


 

 
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