Friday, July 19, 2013

The Art Of Mort Kunstler

I've always enjoyed the artwork that adorned the men's adventure magazines of the 1950's and 60's.  One of the most profilic artists in this genre was Mort Kunstler.  He was great at depicting war scenes, as these examples clearly show.
My favorite war piece of his is this stunning U.S. Navy frogmen painting done in 1964 for the magazine For Men Only.
I also really like these man vs. undersea creature pieces he did back around the same time.

And finally, Kunstler was great at depicting the groovy disco era of the late 60's.  I really like the psychedelic colors in this piece.
All these scans are from the wonderful Heritage Auctions site.  There are also many more wonderful Kunstler pieces there so I definitely recommend checking them out.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Stadium Postcards

Almost from the time I first got into sports, I've been fascinated with the stadiums and arenas the various teams played in.  About ten years ago, I started collecting postcards, with an emphasis on stadiums and arenas.  While some of the older ones are kind of hard to find, I've had pretty good luck finding cards of my favorites.  Here are a few of those.
                                                    Houston Astrodome 1967
                                       Los Angeles Coliseum & Sports Arena 1950's
                                                    Los Angeles Forum 1960's
                                        Madison Square Garden New York 1960's
                                         Candlestick Park San Francisco 1960's

I've also been lucky enough to find postcards of different concept art and models for stadiums that hadn't been built yet at the time.  These are some of my favorite postcards as sometimes the final design was a lot different from the finished product.
                                             Dodger Stadium Los Angeles 1962
                                                 Shea Stadium New York 1964
                                                    San Diego Stadium 1967

I was thrilled to get this concept art postcard of my favorite stadium in MLB, my hometown Royals' beautiful Royals Stadium (as it was known back in 1973).

I'll throw in one last card for my pal and die hard St. Louis Cardinals fan Neato Coolville.  Busch Memorial Stadium was all kinds of 60's retro cool. 

I'll try and post more cards from my collection in the near future.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

1980 Starlog Ads

When I was a little kid up through college, I was an avid reader of Starlog, the preeminent at the time magazine dealing with all things science fiction.  They always had up to date news on the Star Wars movies, not to mention other great franchises like Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and Space: 1999.  One of the coolest things about the mag were the ads.  There was so much cool stuff for sale back then.  I scanned a few of the ads from issue #36 in 1980 and I'd still love to have some of this stuff, especially these animation cels from many of the Filmation cartoons I loved back then.
There were also a lot of ads for Don Post masks, which were always popular around Halloween.  That Alien Face Hugger mask is really cool.
Finally this ad for a certain sequel that just came out at the time got tons of little (and big) kids excited for the summer to come.
These old Starlogs are a great time capsule from a time when it was great to be a kid who was into sci-fi movies and TV shows.  I guess the internet fulfills that need for the kids now.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

It's Spy Smasher!

I've always been a fan of the adventure movie serials of the 1930's and '40's.  I first became aware of them right after Star Wars came out when George Lucas said he was influenced by the Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials of his youth.  You could definitely tell the influence when Raiders Of The Lost Ark came out a few years later.  My love of that movie heightened my interest in movie serials.  When I worked for Blockbuster Video in the early '90's, I was able to buy a bunch of serials that were on clearance for a couple of bucks each.  I bought The Adventures Of Captain Marvel, The Fighting Devil Dogs, King Of The Rocketmen, Nyoka The Jungle Girl, and, last but not least, Spy Smasher.
I became engrossed in the adventures of Fawcett Comics' hero who fought dastardly Axis saboteurs and spies in order to protect our fine shores in the early days of World War II.  Kane Richmond played the title hero and he did a great job portraying the heroic smasher of spies.  My college buddies and I loved the Golden Age of Comics and were suckers for any WWII movies or comics where America took it to those horrible Nazis and this serial was right up our alley.  The posters and lobby cards did a good job getting kids to the theater every week for the next chapters.
The serial was reissued later reedited as a feature length movie.  This was a trailer for that release.  It looks to me like they used footage from the original trailer from 1942 to assemble this one.

I really wish they'd release the whole thing on DVD.  My friend burned off a copy of it from the VHS tape but it'd be great in a nice transfer.  Although it wasn't one of the more popular chapterplays, Spy Smasher definitely is up there with the all time great serials.  If you like non stop heroic action then Spy Smasher is for you!  Thanks to Heritage Auctions for the poster and lobby card scans.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Random Records I Really Like

I've always been a big music buff.  I like almost all kinds of music from all eras and I thought I'd showcase some of the albums that I've really enjoyed through the years.  These particular ones run the gamut from rock 'n roll to soul to pop to orchestral to parody songs so I thought I'd try to turn people on to these records if they haven't been already.

The Beach Boys Pet Sounds
Many consider this the surfin' group's grandest achievement and I certainly agree.  It's a pop masterpiece from beginning to end, with all time great songs like Wouldn't It Be Nice, God Only Knows, Sloop John B, and I Just Wasn't Made For These Times.  Main songwriter Brian Wilson was influenced by the Beatles' Rubber Soul and wanted to write a record that stood up to that great album and he succeeded.  A must have for any 60's rock and pop fan.

Otis Redding In Person At The Whisky A Go Go
The soul master at his very best.  Recorded over a several night stand at Los Angeles' famous Whisky A Go Go nightclub in 1966, Otis and his band brought the power and energy of his Stax Records recordings to life in a way that the studio versions couldn't even begin to touch.  His cover of James Brown's Papa's Got A Brand New Bag is just about as good as the Godfather Of Soul's.  A great, great album.

U2 Achtung Baby
Without a doubt Achtung Baby is my all time favorite album.  It's amazing from beginning to end.  U2 has always been my favorite band and when they reinvented themselves for the 90's with this album, the results were astounding.  Songs like Love Is Blindness, One, So Cruel, Acrobat, The Fly, and Zoo Station are just a few of the gems on this seminal record.  It also bears mentioning that the tour in support of Achtung Baby, the wonderful Zoo TV tour of 1992-93 is my all time favorite tour and concert experience.

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Hammersmith Odeon London 75
Along with the Otis Redding record mentioned above, this is my all time favorite live album.  Bruce and the E Streeters went to London for the first time in November, 1975 to promote the magnificent Born To Run album and the pressure was on to live up to the hype and they succeeded with flying colors.  The band cooked through classics like Thunder Road (in a wonderful vocal and piano version), Backstreets, Born To Run, and Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.  It's a great time capsule of Bruce and the band at their very best.

"Weird Al" Yankovic Dare To Be Stupid
How much do I love Weird Al?  Let me count the ways.  Like A Surgeon, Dare To Be Stupid, One More Minute, Yoda, Slime Creatures From Outer Space, Girls Just Want To Have Lunch, Hooked On Polkas.  I could go on and on but I think you get the idea.  This record was a staple in my tape player in 1985 and it's one of his finest efforts.  One of my regrets in life is not seeing his wonderfully titled Stupid Tour back then although there was a show only about 15 minutes from my house.  Sigh.

Superman The Movie Soundtrack
I love movie soundtracks and I think that John Williams was the greatest film composer who ever lived and the Superman soundtrack is, in my opinion, his best work, although you can't go wrong with Star Wars, Close Encounters, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, or any of his other great work.  This particular version of the Superman soundtrack is remastered and contains the entire score, which earlier versions didn't have.  A must have for movie music fans.

Those are just a few of my favorites.  I'll try and post some more at a later time.  In the meantime, Happy Listening!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Music Of James Bond

I was thrilled to see Adele win the Oscar for Best Song for her great theme from Skyfall, the latest James Bond blockbuster.  One thing the Bond films are known for are the memorable theme songs and scores that have excited fans for 50 years.  The Music Of James Bond by Jon Burlingame is a wonderful look back at the creation of the music from all the Bond films from Dr. No through Quantum Of Solace.  There are a ton of behind the scenes stories about the writing and recording of classic songs like Shirley Bassey's Goldfinger, Paul McCartney's Live And Let Die, and many more.  I've been collecting some of the soundtracks and they are still just as vibrant and exciting as they were back when they came out.  Here are some of my favorites.
I heartily recommend this book for any movie music fan and especially Bond fans.  May Bond music continue to excite filmgoers for another fifty years.

Monday, February 11, 2013

R.I.P. My Childhood Grocery Store

I got some bad news this past weekend. I found out that the grocery store down the street from where I grew up was closing. When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time there buying everything from candy, trading cards (Star Wars and Moonraker were my favorites), and, of course, kiddie cereal. This ad from the 1978 Truman High School yearbook shows the front as I first remembered it.
I first knew it as Fisher's United Super. A few years after this, it became DeMarco's United Super. It was at this time that the hottest new thing to hit the city hit the store. That's right, video games. Boy, I spent a ton of time here playing a lot of different games. My buddy down the street and I would walk down there almost every day during the summer to dump a ton of quarters on the various games. They only had two at one time but they would get new ones every few months or so. Ms. Pac-Man was probably there the longest. I bet it was there at least a year, maybe longer.
I was also addicted to Time Pilot and Scramble. Other games I remember there were Pac-Man, Defender, Joust, Galaga, and Moon Patrol. I managed to get a Ms. Pac-Man machine from the very friend that always went with me. He became a big time video game collector and probably has every game we played at the store in his collection. I did get this cool Scramble back glass to remind me of all the quarters I pumped into it back then.
There were a lot of other great things about that store. I would guess that it was built in the 60's but I'm not sure. I do know that a lot of the interior was unchanged when my buddy Neato Coolville and I went in there a year or so ago. I always loved the dairy section. It resembled a barn and the sign was unchanged since my childhood. Fortunately, the milk wasn't from 1978.
It became a Thriftway when I was in college but it still had that neighborhood charm that it always had. In fact, a lot of my high school friends worked there at one time or another. I'm surprised I never worked there. I probably wouldn't have gotten much work done with the video games there. As I'm finding out too much lately, a lot of my childhood stuff is disappearing. That's what stinks about getting old. For more grocery store memories, check out the aforementioned Neato Coolville's recollection of his childhood grocery store. A special thanks to NC for taking the two pictures of the front of the store and the dairy section. The big grocery store chains may be convenient, but they don't hold a candle to neighborhood stores.