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Donald LaFontaine 1940 – 2008

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

don lafontaine
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.


 

 

Mr. Bubble

Posted by Whitmore, August 7, 2008 11:26am | Post a Comment
Sad news from the world of high finance and squeaky clean kids: Yesterday, it was announced that Mr. Bubble has passed away. The happy, pink faced bubble bath icon became yet another victim of these changing times, and perhaps a victim of modern kids who just don’t know how to roll around in the muck anymore -- except in chat rooms on the internet. Mr. Bubble, who always refused to give his actual age, was believed to be in his mid fifties.

Born in North Dakota, Mr Bubble was created by the entrepreneur Harold Schafer (1912 - 2001), who founded the Gold Seal Company during The Second World War. Schafer also invented Glass Wax and Snowy Bleach; each of these brands became the number one selling products in the world in their respective categories by 1960. In 1986, Schafer retired and sold his Gold Seal Company.

Ascendia Brands, the Hamilton, New Jersey based present day owners of Mr Bubble and makers of health and beauty products such as Baby Magic and Calgon, said they have filed a voluntary petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and are seeking a buyer for the business. Reports say Ascendia and five affiliates listed debt of $279 million and assets of $194.8 million as of July 5 in Chapter 11 documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

So tonight, when you slip into your bath with your glass of sherry or a cup of chamomile tea, think of what Mr Bubble used to sing to filthy and grubby kids everywhere, “I’m Mr. Bubble and you can watch me pop!”



Callisto - Jupiter IV in Entertainment

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 27, 2008 10:14pm | Post a Comment
CALLISTO



Callisto was discovered by the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei in 1610. It was named by Simon Marius after a nymph in Greek mythology who was associated with Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt. In the Grecian religion, Zeus took the form of Artemis to seduce Callisto because she didn't fancy the fellow. Then he raped her.



Its diameter is approximately 99% that of Mercury's. It orbits Jupiter. The surface is primarily dominated by impact craters which cover it almost to the point of saturation. However, underneath the surface of rocks and ice is a salty subsurface ocean 100km deep*.

  

Jupiter Moon, the "Jupiter Jazz" episode of Cowboy Bebop and the Sporilla from Terrahawks

Above the surface, a thin atmosphere of carbon dioxide coats the icy world. NASA's Revolutionary Concepts for Human Outer Planet Exploration has named the world as the favorite for a future Jupiter base.

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Earworms, brainworms, and sticky music

Posted by Whitmore, June 28, 2008 10:05pm | Post a Comment

An Earworm is a term for a portion of a song or other musical bit that gets "stuck" in someone’s head and repeats continually against a their will. Often, relief comes only when it is swapped with a newer fragment from another tune. Research indicates that the people who get the most earworms tend to listen to music frequently and are more likely to have other neurotic habits, such as biting pencils or finger nails or tapping fingers. In Oliver Sacks latest book, Musicophilia, he defines the phenomenon as “involuntary musical imagery.”

I’m regularly haunted by fractions of tunes wandering between lobes. And more often than not, these are unfamiliar melodies incessantly repeating, tumbling about, until my slipping weak-ass sagacity cracks. Musicians tend to more susceptible to earworms, and it probably doesn’t help that I listen to scraps of songs all day at Amoeba as a I comb over the piles of used, alien 45’s littering my office. Yesterday, for example, I played snippets of possibly three hundred different singles just trying to figure what is what and what is not. I seem to have survived the experience, at least for the moment; in any case I won’t know until the next ghostly notes infest my synapses. Unfortunately some melodies or musical moods are so perfectly defined; my simpleton’s grey matter is rather easy prey to a full-on earworm assault. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been re-watching all 29 episodes of David Lynch’s 1990 -1991 television show Twin Peaks. And no, the Twin Peaks Theme is not the exact piece of music bouncing around my skull, but Twin Peaks is the source of the latest spell.

Earl Hagen 1919 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, May 31, 2008 08:52am | Post a Comment

Earlier this week legendary, Emmy Award-winning television composer Earle Hagen died in Rancho Mirage, Calif., of natural causes at the age of 88. A prolific composer, he wrote many of the classic television themes that endlessly stick in our heads. Shows like Make Room for Daddy, The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Spy, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C, That Girl, The Mod Squad, and Mary Hartman Mary Hartman, many of which featured his sense of humor and droll musical wit. Hagen also wrote the jazz standard "Harlem Nocturne” when he was only 20 years of age.

Born in Chicago on July 9, 1919, his family moved to Los Angeles when he was a child. After graduating from Hollywood High School, he left home at age 16 to tour with many of the Big Band giants of the day -- Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Ben Pollack and Ray Noble. While on the road with Noble in 1939 he wrote the classic instrumental "Harlem Nocturne." Inspired by the work and sound of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, this sexy/sultry tune has since then been recorded hundreds of times by artists such as Charlie Barnet, Glenn Miller, Sam "The Man" Taylor, Stan Kenton, Earl Bostic (a major hit in 1956), Johnny Otis, The Viscounts (whose version is perhaps the raunchiest!), Edgar Winter, King Curtis and The Lounge Lizards. "Harlem Nocturne" was also used, years later as the theme to the television show Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer.

But Hagen’s greatest fame probably stems from The Andy Griffith Show and its whistling happy-go-lucky theme written in 1960. This folksy-down home melody perfectly captures the opening credits, scene and feel of Andy Griffith and a young Ron Howard in character as the Sheriff and son Opie, walking down a country path towards the old fishing hole, poles on shoulder, in what must be the-life-idyllic. The whistling was done by Earle Hagen himself.

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