Thursday, August 06, 2020

My First Beatles Songs

Mark Twain famously said that everything came to Cincinnati ten years after it had already hit everywhere else. Thus, Beatlemania to me was in the 1970s and Disco in the ‘80s. My first Beatle record was their last single, THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD. I had been only five years old when the Fabs first appeared on ED SULLIVAN. We watched THE SCARECROW OF ROMNEY MARSH on WALT DISNEY’S WONDERFUL WORLD OF COLOR that evening. I wasn’t completely oblivious to the Beatles music in the Swingin’ ‘60s, though. I simply never heard much of it then nor ascribed much importance to it when I did.

Here, in what I believe to be the correct order, were my first Beatles songs:

1)   HELP: I remember hearing it for the first time in 1975 on my Uncle Jim’s car radio as we drove to Virginia Beach. I thought it was great and it got me interested enough to watch the movie when it premiered on TV a couple years later.
2)   RUN FOR YOUR LIFE: Never a single but I remember hearing it on the radio in a corner grocery store down the street from where we were living in 1966. I didn’t pay any attention to the creepy words. I just liked the sound.
3)   TICKET TO RIDE: I have always loved a good snow scene and this song is in the snow scene in HELP, which became my favorite scene when I caught it on TV.
4)   WE CAN WORK IT OUT: My mother didn’t listen to Top 40 radio stations but I remember hearing and really liking this one on one of her more conservative stations early one morning before school, probably in ’67 or ’68. 
5)   PAPERBACK WRITER: Heard this one on the radio a few times in 1968 and it became a constant earworm, even though I couldn’t understand many of the lyrics.  
6)   YELLOW SUBMARINE: Has anyone ever heard this song and NOT liked it. I was a pushover for the marketing blitz when the YS movie came out and it became the first movie I ever saw without my parents, age 9. Went with my pal, Terry, and we had to stand in line that stretched down the block to Woolworth! Convinced my mom to go with me to see it again a week later! Bought the comic book, too!
7)   COME TOGETHER: I didn’t know what it meant (still don’t) but I particularly liked John’s multi-tracked vocal on the title words and I invested a lot of dimes (Three plays for a quarter) in the fall of 1969 playing this on the jukebox at Liberty Chili. 
8)   HEY, JUDE: It was early 1970 when I somewhere, somehow discovered this one and it became an absolute favorite. Not long after I bought my first Beatles single in April of 1970, my first Beatles LP was THE BEATLES AGAIN aka HEY JUDE, a then-new collection of singles and B sides that had never been on an album before.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Help! I'm NOT Terry Gilliam

The other day I was digging through a box upstairs and ran across my actual physical copy of the issue of Harvey Kurtzman's HELP! seen here. It was one of the final issues, from when the young cartoonist Terry Gilliam had replaced Gloria Steinem as Assistant Editor. This issue is of particular interest as it contains a photo comic (fumetti) that stars a young British comic actor named John Cleese. Cleese was in the US on tour with other comedians from Cambridge and was asked to appear. Famously, this was when he first met Gilliam, which formed one of the seed that would eventually grow into Monty Python. And so call that Cleese was in the only issue that featured Terry Gilliam himself on the cover!

Only that's NOT Terry Gilliam.

I always thought it was Terry Gilliam. Looks like Terry Gilliam. The consensus on the Internet is that it's Terry Gilliam. But it's not. When someone posted a signed (by Terry Gilliam) copy in a Facebook group recently, it was pointed out that many people often mistakenly believe that Terry Gilliam is on the cover but that there's actually a photo inside of Terry with the cover model.

Having just found my own copy, I went and checked. Whaddaya know? There is! But, hey, you can't really see "Terry's" face in the photo and his name is listed first, as though he's on the left, where the cover guy is. Plus isn't the guy in the wet suit much thinner there than on the cover? Could Gilliam have replaced him as the model?

But then I found this post from a while back on Facebook, from the son of model John Massey, Sr.

As much as it seems like that should be Terry Gilliam on that cover, that's John Massey, Sr.
                                                       Not Terry Gilliam.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

WC Fields Vs. Charlie McCarthy by Sam Viviano

MAD artist Sam Viviano here illustrates moments from the legendary radio feud between the great WC Fields and ventriloquist Edgar Bergen's wooden boy, Charlie McCarthy. I like little Candy's cameo. It's surprising that the artist, known for his caricatures, didn't even seem to try with Bergen, in spite of his decades of TV and personal appearances making his likeness very well-known.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Pop with Davy Jones

In July of 1972, Davy Jones headlined a Saturday afternoon TV special called POP that served as a pilot for a show to rival Dick Clark's AMERICAN BANDSTAND for teens. I never heard of it because locally it was pre-empted by a football game.

POP also featured, among others, The Osmond Brothers and the Mike Curb Congregation (pre-Kathy Coleman). Here's some info I found on the show. Maybe YOU saw it?

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Review: Shame of the Jungle 1975/1981

Here's another review I just found that I wrote in 1981, this for a dirty feature length Franco-Belgian Tarzan cartoon comedy. I had seen ads for it when it played locally in 1975 and read a little about some controversy that led the character's name to be changed from "Tarzoon" but that was all I knew when I rented it on Beta in 1981. 

A strange little film, this feature-length European cartoon plops an irreverent version of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan into a sci-fi tale of strange creatures and a would-be world conqueror. That plot takes a back seat to the film’s basic lunacy and satire, adapted into English by SNL’s Anne Beatts and Michael O’Donoghue. There are more than enough scenes f sex and violence to earn this picture’s original X rating. A bald woman with 14 breasts wants a hair transplant form Tarzan’s wife so June (not “Jane” here) is kidnapped by the woman’s penis-shaped minions. There follows a long chase scene in which our hero (whose name is consistently blacked out on the animation) finds and rescues his mate. The voices are provided mainly by SNL cast members, some uncredited. The best parts are the throwaway gags, both verbal and visual, such as John Belushi’s perfect voice for a 13-year-old slob who considers himself a Zen master and travels on a flying carpet carried aloft by birds. Much of the scatological humor gets old really quickly, leaving the voice acting to carry whatever’s left. Although the English-dubbed voice credits are woefully incomplete, Bill Murray is recognizably in there and classic Tarzan actor Johnny Weissmuller’s son, Johnny, Jr, is credited, presumably as the main character. SHAME OF THE JUNGLE is done in an original, although not particularly fluid, animation style and while there’s really not much here, it should be enjoyable to Tarzan fans, animation fans, or SNL fans who aren’t easily offended…because this movie IS offensive!

SHAME OF THE JUNGLE is now is on YouTube and has its own Wikipedia page detailing the credits and the film's history at length. Even Christopher Guest, aka Christopher Haden-Guest, Fifth Baron Haden-Guest--you know, that guy from THIS IS SPINAL TAP and BEST IN SHOW--voices several characters. And if you listen closely, you'll hear Judy Graubert, who played Jungle Judy on the kids' show, THE ELECTRIC COMPANY. 

Friday, July 17, 2020

Lum and Abner--Art and Makeup

LUM AND ABNER was a long running rural comedy on radio that also spawned a series of movies and books and even today a comic strip! It was a favorite of my father, who told me all about it for years before I ever ran across an episode of it. I'm not a huge fan but I quite enjoy it and will listen to it every once in a while. This vintage article gives some insight into the show and its characters.