Thursday, December 17, 2020

Stupendous Mega-Post: Merry Christmas from 1960!

A few days ago I came across and scanned an end-of-year letter written by Mom regarding the Christmas holidays of 1960.

... And I was amazed to realize the many tendrils this one Christmas Day has spread, even to the present-day!

Read the second paragraph, "Mark Decides to Return Gift."
In this photo from that day, Big Brother Robert is at the left; center is Big Sister Sue, while I'm lounging off to the right.  Excepting the board-game box, those things all over the rug at Sue's feet are the blocks Mom mentions.  Already you can see I don't like picking them up!

However, I didn't return the blocks to Santa, I kept them.  26 years later, they were played with:
Yes, that's our son Matthew the Engineer, in 1986, pointing out what he'd built with those Playskool blocks.
And 30 years AFTER THAT, in 2016, our grandson Andrew is a great builder too.
And what the Duffle Bag o'Blocks looks like SIXTY YEARS after that glorious morning, awaiting more generations of play!

At the bottom of the first column on page one, read "Music Man Memories."  You'll see that I didn't make this Tulsa trip -- I was spending the night across the street at the Hefners' (story on next page of the note) -- but please notice mention of "the new radio" which kept them entertained on the drive.  No, the car DID NOT have a built-in radio.  This was a portable GE "eight transistor" whose home, as I grew up, was in the kitchen playing KVOO.
It's been in our attic for a few decades and is a little the worse for wear.  But what magic it brought into our home as I was growing up!

At the top of page one on the right, read the paragraph "Christmas Eve Call."  I do not remember the visit with the Barbees, but the later reference to "the 'Christmas story' read by Mr A" refers to a story by Sterling North, "The Birthday of Little Jesus."  The Tulsa World ran it in their Sunday edition of December 21, 1952.  It was printed in many newspapers in the early 1950s.

It became a tradition, before I came along, for Dad to read the story on Christmas Eve.  Sadly, after a couple of years, our copy of the paper was lost.  Mom, go-getter that she was, wrote to the World asking if she could buy another copy.  In the mail came the World's own file copy, with a note saying that the story would be better off in our hands than in their files.

It so happens that in 1981, at Big Bro Robert's house, Dad let me record the story.  Above is the CD front art I cobbled together later.  Listening to the recording is a magical trip through time!

NOW ... Read over the paragraph on page two headed "A Visit with Santa."  As you'll read, my best friend Tom Hefner went to the party, at which we received stick horses.
This photo from a few months later shows us cowboys (Tommy on left, I'm at the right) with our trusty steeds.

The following paragraph, "Alfreds Entertain," explains the following photo.
Sue's at the left edge; then Mike McCloud.  I've got my hands raised and my eyes closed.  Robert's behind, and Patsy McCloud is at the right.  Evidently I picked up the blocks!

Page 2's mention of discovering the Bartlesville Public Library opens another cavern of memories ... but I will only report that I wanted to read Stone Soup because the above edition was read aloud to us by Captain Kangaroo.  (PS one of the greatest thrills of my life was calling in to a radio talk show in the 1980s and thanking Bob Keeshan over the phone for his immeasurable contribution to the lives of our generation!)
Here's another photo of my Christmas loot.  In the background is a very cool toy, a target game featuring Quick Draw McGraw and Baba Louie.  I don't have it any more (believe it or not!), but it looked like this:
If I recall correctly, the thing went back and forth.  If you hit the pasteboard cutout, it reversed direction ... maybe.

Well, that's the end of this Stupendous Mega-Post.  I hope it tickled a little nostalgia or warm feelings.

See you back here on Monday, January 4, 2021!

Monday, December 14, 2020

From 1982 - In Search of the Perfect Version of Your Favorite Movie

From the May, 1982 issue of Video Review:

Check out the last few sections for a now-antiquated discussion of various versions of Superman: The Movie.

Do YOU have a favorite version?  See you on Thursday!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Rest of the VOYAGE Is Available on Amazon!

Yes, ​Irwin Allen's Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea: The Authorized Biography of a Classic Sci-Fi Series, Volume Two is available on Amazon, if you haven’t yet ordered a Cushman-signed copy from The Jacobs/Brown website. 

Volume 1 briefly covered Irwin Allen’s early career, leading into the development and production of Voyage. Season One of the series is covered in depth.

Volume 2 completes the tale, beginning with Season Two through the end of the voyage. You’ll learn each episode’s story and script development, casting, (sometimes cheesy) special effects, broadcast, and you’ll read contemporary views on the series and its cast and crew.

Just as Volume 1 contained a bonus chapter on “The Composers of Voyage,” Volume 2 wraps up with “Voyage to the Toy Store,” a survey of show-related tie-ins from toys and lunchboxes to books and trading cards. Also featured is Gold Key’s 16-issue comic-book series, with synopses and covers.

To complete your journey to adventure on the Seaview, you’ll need Volume 2!

See you Monday, fellow voyagers!

Monday, December 07, 2020

A Dusty Christmas Present

On Christmas Day, in 1977, I was 21.  And my folks knew I loved Star Trek.
So it was only logical to give me this towel.  Of course this is an imaginary scene; the (TV) Enterprise never slapped around a Klingon ship in this fashion.

Forty-some years later, the towel is still in fine fettle, though unused.
It adorns one of the walls in the Fortress of Markitude.

Have you any 40+-year-old Christmas treasures?

Thursday, December 03, 2020

December's Calendar Pages

Once more, the recurrence of 2020-2021's calendar dates matching 1970-71 allows you to print these 50-year-old pages and use them for this year!

Here's hoping you have as much fun as these scrawny little people.  But wear more clothes!

See you on Monday.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Lost in the Mists of Time and Space

Well, I came across this manic consumer parable in the 9th grade, as provided by American Lit teacher Ruth White, around Christmas, 1971.
Evidently, like a lot of Xerox lore, its authorship is uncertain.  Do you know who wrote it?

See you on Thursday!  Don't be a funny mother!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

A Chip off the Old Book

Anybody who knows anything knows that my mom, Mary Lou, loved books. She loved ’em even more than I do. She read books the way some folks plow through potato chips. And, thank Heaven, she passed on that bibliophilia to me.

More than that, beginning in junior high I kept a log of every book I read. If it’s a book I owned, my practice has been to write the date(s) of reading on some bookmark, which stayed with the book.

For example (above), I’ve read The Hobbit twelve times, finishing on the dates seen above. The first four times was a copy which was part of the Ballantine paperbacks set.
This set I lent to a friend who never returned it. No, I’m not mad at him!
In contrast, I’ve read Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes a whopping 28 times.
The above image typifies my habit of using a book’s receipt as its bookmark.

If you squint and cross your eyes, you can almost read the book title on the receipt. Some blog posts about this monumental parable:

(Can you tell I love that book?)

Back to the sainted Mary Lou the bookworm ...

One of the mostest bittersweet things you can imagine was going through her books when she left them behind. Some I donated, some I sold and then donated the money, and some I kept.

One of those was Nick Meyer’s third Sherlock Holmes pastiche, The Canary Trainer. Now, Mom died in 2010—but I only got around to reading The Canary Trainer in January, 2020. 

Mom bought the book in 1994, according to her bookplate. But see? see? SEE?

Mom logged the dates she read the book! Something I have always done! And I never knew she did this. She never knew that I did it.

Goes to show you, great bookworms think alike!

See you on Monday, friends!

Monday, November 23, 2020

Book Review: "The First Star Trek Movie: Bringing the Franchise to the Big Screen, 1969-1980" -- by Sherilyn Connelly

            Connelly does a first-rate job of presenting the fruits of her research.  She sifted through tons of newspaper articles and other media.  She did a lot of work at the Margaret Herrick Library.

            That’s good.  What just about ruined the book for me was Connelly’s authorly intrusions.  I came across one online mention of this book as “scholarly.”  Not completely.  In my English major’s opinion, “scholarly” does not include snark, much less not-cute-but-trying-to-be plugs for another of the author’s works.

            EXAMPLES of author intrusion ...

  • ·         page 62, referring to the probably terrible Roddenberry film Pretty Maids All in a Row: “like most Vadim films it was rather vile”
  • ·         page 65 contains a seven-lines-long plug for a previous Connelly book evidently about My Little Pony fandom
  • ·         another self-aggrandizement on page 87 takes up “only” three lines of text
  • ·         page 92 contains a whole paragraph of how the intrusive author likes Susan Sackett for giving the intrusive author something to ramble on about, intrusively
  • ·         page 131, “I again recommend my book ...”
  • ·         page 160, another intrusion to plug it
  • ·         page 171 – I submit that nobody cares when, or how often, the author saw Apocalypse Now

             My problem is this stuff has no place in a “scholarly” book.  Connelly did tons of research to make this short book a gold standard of reference about the road to Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  It really hurts my brain to trip over a smelly pile of authorial self-plugging or an unhip “for reals” (inserted in a comment about Nimoy) comment in the middle of otherwise right-on narrative about my favorite franchise.

            I would be remiss in my typical book-reviewing nitpickiness without pointing out some actual errors:

  • ·         On pages 65, 66, 93, 124, and 199 (note 27) Connelly misspells the last name of Trek designer Matt Jefferies as “Jeffries.”  What makes it really grating is that on page 130, she gets his name RIGHT!
  • ·         On page 65 and frequently thereafter, she describes the Franz Joseph Star Trek Blueprints as “fanon”—that is, add-on fannish inventions which are taken as authorized by other fans, but aren’t really “official.”  What’s wrong about that statement?  The drawings by Franz Joseph Schnaubelt began as “fan canon”—until Schnaubelt mailed them to Roddenberry.  The Great Bird of the Galaxy went ga-ga, and in 1973 the “Franz Joseph” drawings were published by Ballantine and licensed by Paramount.  That MAKES THEM OFFICIAL.  You can read about this here:
  • ·         Page 105 discusses an unfilmed story for “Star Trek Phase II” by Worley Thorne.  The title is given as “Are Unheard Memories Sweet?” but the actual title for this creepy tale is “Are Unheard Melodies Sweet?”
  •             And don’t forget her wish to sell hot chocolate to bleary-eyed STTMP line-waiters, if she only had a time machine—but “the first I’d do would be to kill baby Hitler ...” (page 156).  What the heck does either part of this comment have to do with otherwise fine reporting?

            This is what I don’t get:  Why would anybody dilute a really stunning assembly of research by sticking in a bunch of sucky attempts at snark and/or humor?  

            By the way, other people think that the book (and Connelly’s writing style) are simply marvy—Psychobabble, for one.

            Go ahead and decide for yourself, if you are prepared for a simpering authorial tone which clashes with an otherwise serious treatment of history.

See you on Thursday!

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Superman and JFK

It only made sense for DC's hottest super-star, the Man of Steel, to find common ground with the real-life American super-star president, JFK.  Such a cross-promotion could only help each side!

However, the disaffected folks in positions of power in the US government proceeded with murdering the President on their own pace.

This article's from Amazing Heroes #184, October 1990, by fan Mary Smith.

And here is a blurry photo of my copies of these two issues.
A few years ago, the OKC library system allowed me to fill a display case with some of my super-stuff.  One of the comics I showed off was Action #309.  I supplied this typed caption:
See you again on Monday, everybody!

Monday, November 16, 2020

Super Clothes #7: Sears Has Everything! (except stores)

The kid clothes and PJs in this installment all came from Sears.

This long-sleeved flannel-type boy’s outfit is size 10. In a stunning piece of allegorical art, Superman appears to be flying out of an upside-down ice-cream cone in outer space. And he’s carrying a tumbleweed which is on fire!
This boffo robe has all your favorites! That’s assuming your favorites are Superman, Captain Marvel, or Batman, of course.

This more understated robe is labeled size 12-14. But, as modeled by six-year-old Araya Sunshine, that sizing is probably not accurate.

Well, that’s all the sartorial super-splendor for now, friends! See you next time!

Thursday, November 12, 2020

I'm a Marxist, Number 2!

Yes, Grouch Marx remains my patron saint.  Here are some clippings about him and his clan:
The above clipping is from the March 28, 1969 issue of Time.
The book mentioned above, The Marx Bros Scrapbook, is indeed filled with irrepressible reminiscences from Groucho, in the form of long-term quotations/interviews with Richard J Anobile.  Let the SOBs fall where they may, I say!

This January 2, 1977 spread from Family Weekly offers nostalgic balm for all.  Don't ask me where the missing part of the first page went.  The best guess is that it was a photo of the four Marx Bros, and that I cut it out to use as a videotape-case label for home-dubbed Marx movies.

See you next Monday, fellow Marxists!

Monday, November 09, 2020

Lois Lane, the First Lady of Comics!

Here's a headstrong, willful heroine we can all vote for!  This article is from the August 1, 1985 issue of the late, lamented Amazing Heroes.

Now dig up the issues mentioned from your bac-issue boxes and reread them!  See you on Thursday!

All original content
© by Mark Alfred