Monday, July 18, 2011

All I Want For Christmas



Digitally Remastered And Digitally Restored, Loaded With Over Two Hours Of Special Features, The Spectacular 10-Disc Set Arrives October 25 From RHI Entertainment And Vivendi Entertainment

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA – Celebrating the genius of the most beloved comedy team of all time, LAUREL & HARDY: THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION debuts in a stunning 10-disc set on October 25, 2011 from RHI Entertainment and Vivendi Entertainment. With a comedic style that defined an era and created a legacy that is still celebrated today, 58 of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy’s talking shorts and feature films, produced under legendary movie mogul Hal Roach from 1929 through 1940, are now available for the first time in the U.S. all together in one magnificent collection.

Transferred in high definition for the first time and digitally enhanced for home viewing in the finest quality available to date, the set contains favorites that have been enjoyed for generations including Helpmates, Hog Wild, Another Fine Mess, Sons of the Desert, Way Out West, and the Academy Award® winning* film The Music Box.

LAUREL & HARDY: THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION comes housed in collectible, book-style packaging with an extensive, detailed film guide. The set also boasts over two hours of special features including exclusive, never-before-seen interviews with comedy legends Dick Van Dyke, Jerry Lewis, Tim Conway and more, who discuss the enduring impact and influence of Laurel and Hardy.

Additional features include commentaries by Laurel and Hardy aficionados, along with a virtual location map that allows viewers to take an interactive tour of the iconic places in and around Los Angeles where Laurel and Hardy filmed. Available for the suggested retail price of $99.98, LAUREL & HARDY: THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION showcases some of the most cherished and hilarious films in cinema history and is a must-have for comedy fans and collectors everywhere.

Price: $99.98
Street Date: October 25, 2011
Order Date: September 20, 2011
Catalog Number: RH3021
Language: English
Running time: 1941 minutes
Rating: NR

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

Not The Beatles Vol. 6

After a pretty long lay-off, I've re-visited the budget bins to assemble yet another collection of vintage Beatles cover recordings.

I've plundered not one, but two sets of "Alvin & The Chipmunks" cash-ins. Yes, the"real" Chipmunks recorded their own LP of Beatles covers, but the WYNCOTE and DIPLOMAT budget labels pulled off a bank-shot by ripping of rodents ripping off insects!

One source was "The Grasshoppers Sing The Beatles Hits" which featured some nice interplay, David Seville style, between the main grasshopper, Henry, and the manager, Jerry.

The other group of sped-up vocals came from a Wyncote LP that didn't even bother giving itself a title or identifying the "artists" in print. The cover just showed four chipmunks with "A HARD DAYS NIGHT" and a few other song titles splash across it.

Also featured are some "karaoke" versions of Beatles tunes from the "Sing A-Long With The Beatles" LP that was released on the Tower record label. At least this was a Capitol Records subsidiary.

Sprinkled in are also covers by a (mid-70s?) LP recorded by The Rip-Offs. Well, at least they're up front about it!

For the final track, I was able to create my own chipmunk version of "My Bonnie" by tweaking the Tony Sheridan recording. His guitar parts were also pitched up an octave, so now it sounds like he was rocking out on a mandolin!

Let me know if I need to upload a link to this masterpiece...

Friday, July 30, 2010

S.N.A.F.U. Alert

It's a five-alarm cartoon nerd emergency, gang. Code Red!

Thunderbean Animation has announced it will be releasing the most complete, best-looking collection of "Private Snafu" cartoons ever assembled come this October.

"Private What?" you ask.

These are cartoons that were produced during WWII to be shown to armed forces. Imagine cartoons made by the Warner Brothers studio, produced during their absolute peak with Dr. Seuss thrown in for good measure.

That's what these are.

Here are a few screen shot from "Rumors" (Friz Freleng, dir.) and "Booby Traps (Bob Clampett, dir.) The pictoral quality is stunning on these!


An off-hand remark ("Good day for a bombing!") gets amplified all out of proportion until the entire base has been convinced that they have lost the war. Pvt. Snafu ends up in a padded cell while he is taunted by the "baloney" he had let loose.

This one was scripted by Dr. Seuss.


A little WWII-era cheesecake for our fighting boys!

Even though the enemy has fled, soldiers should be on the lookout for booby traps that have been left behind. Note the characteristic Rod Scribner pose. Those teeth!

Snafu manages to blow himself to kingdom come for not taking heed.

I'll try to remember to post further info once this set hits the street.

This looks to be the cartoon DVD release of the year.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Breakin' Like A Mighty Wind

On New Years Eve, 1992 NBC broadcast "A Spinal Tap Reunion" as a TV Special.

This was ten years after Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer and Michael McKean were seen as the Heavy-Metal Band Spinal Tap but eleven years before the same three guys became The Folksmen in "A Mighty Wind.

Yet, here we find The Folksmen on the concert bill to open for Spinal Tap's Reunion concert at the Royal Albert Hall! (Note MTV dreamboat Martha Quinn!)

Backstage, we find them warming up by singing "Blood On The Coal" which is a folksong about a mining disaster and a train derailment.

I wonder if this was the first appearance of The Folksmen? "Blood On The Coal" would later appear on the soundtrack album for "A Mighty Wind."

It also makes me wonder about how long a typical gestation period is for the ideas these guys come up with.

Oh, well - I thought it was interesting.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

CD's CDs

I bought and installed my first CD-R drive back in 1999. It was a balky device that would run at the amazing speed of 2x. About one in three discs would have to be scrapped and redone thanks to the "buffer under run" gambit.

But, boy was I in heaven!

As a fan of mid-sixties garage bands I had spent the previous twenty years buying compilation LPs of obscure tracks. Now here was an opportunity to make my own nearly commercial grade comps!

But what good are CD-Rs without artwork to stuff in their jewel cases?

PowerPoint to the rescue!

Here are some random examples of inserts I've slapped together.

One category of comps are the ones I assemble by either transferring tracks from vinyl or cassettes or downloading from other "sixties-geek" websites. I usually just pick a song title from whatever group I've assembled and use that to name the collection-of-the-moment.

I like to use as much white space as possible to save on the old ink cartridge. It also looks "cleaner" to my eye.

Another category is where a fellow garage band enthusiast has created his own collection of tacks, but might not have done any artwork.

Once again, PowerPoint to the rescue!

Note: The bassist on the "World Without Fuzz" cover has a Vox violin-shaped bass just like one I used to own.

In looking around my hard drive, I found an insert that I ultimately didn't use. In fact, I had completely forgotten about it.

An Internet acquaintance (hi, Lee!) had published the artwork from a mid-sixties Tom & Jerry story and I thought that would pretty funny to use for one of my comps:

Somehow, It must not have filled the bill because I ultimately made new artwork and retitled the same collection of tracks:

Yes, I am a nerd.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

One More Home Made Cartoon Compilation

Some would say that tinkering around with silent-era "Out of The Inkwell" cartoons is a superfluous exercise in "re-inventing the wheel." But, in the interest of learning more about my Pinnacle Studio 12 video software and my own cartoon nerdiness, I went and did it any way

So, "Neener, neener, neener," says I.

In 2007 and 2008, Warner Home Video released a baker's dozen of these "Out of The Inkwell" cartoons as bonus features on their POPEYE THE SAILOR box sets. Unfortunately, the versions of these shorts they offered up were absolutely mute. So I made it my mission to add music and sound effects to enhance my own viewing experience.

The earliest cartoons, from 1919/1920, had dark, blurry "Bray Studios" title cards. I replaced them with my own versions and added vintage music tracks from old 78s.

The next group of cartoons, from 1921 - 1924, received new music beds from the 78 rpm archive as well as laboriously synched-up sound effects. The Pinnacle Studio 12 has a rather limited palette of sfx, but through the use of judicious sound-editing I managed to mix it up a bit. "Trip To Mars" turned out especially well, I felt.

The last three cartoons in the set received "Stuart Productions" music montages. Missing main title cards were also created and inserted.

Two "bonus" cartoons were added:

1. "Finding His Voice" was an early sound cartoon that the Fleischers produced in association with the Western Electric company. It explains how the sound-on-film process works. I've had a 16mm print of this for decades and it always bothered me that the sound track falls out of synch about two minutes into the film. I was able to bring the whole picture back into synchronization and it is amazing how well-timed this thing actually is! Mind you, the animators had not yet perfected how to animate dialog, but they were obviously giving it their best shot.

2. In the cartoon "Koko Back Tracks" time is made to run backwards and hilarity ensues. I took this cartoon, reversed it and created "Koko Back Tracks (Backwards)" which has to be about the most useless bonus feature ever. But, hey, "Dat's how I roll!"

Have I finally sated my unwholesome desire to tweak old cartoons via my computer's video editor? Is the animated monkey finally off my back? Don't I have anything better to do?

I wish I knew.