Ten Things Old Toys Teach Us

Melville purposefully distorted and misrepresented
the character of what was, in fact, a truly terrific white whale.

The ultimate “Prairie House” was designed not by Frank,
but his son John.

In 1959, a drive-in theater could show TV reruns and Terrytoons
and still get at least one carload of people to show up.

The 1950’s were not kind to Mickey Rooney.

It took months to correct the confusion created by
The Batman Modeling Team’s
contribution to Urology Awareness Week.

Social skills atrophied quickly
when an obsessive passion for coloring
developed in six-year-old Ted Nugent.

Hitchcock’s main source of income in the 1950’s was UK merchandising.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control estimates
that robots who quit smoking add an
average 14.2 hours of battery life.
Depression-Era “Bankrupt Donald Duck,”
considered “topical toy” in 1932,
might just be poised for a big comeback.

Tragedy has all the elements necessary for “family fun.”

You can’t help but wonder what horrifying board games
might be on store shelves today if The Ideal Toy Corporation
of Hollis, New York were still around.

The Sinking of the Titanic Game featured a
“new 3 piece movable game board”:

Actual Excerpts From the rules:

THE OBJECT of the game is to be the first player to board the RESCUE SHIP – with at least two passengers, two water tokens and two food tokens. The Titanic starts to sink after each player has taken his first turn.

When desired, a player may abandon his current stateroom assignment and proceed by the roll of the dice to a lifeboat. Should an assigned stateroom sink under the water line before the player gets to it, his Passenger Card is returned to the bottom of the deck.

A player forced to move to the lifeboat launching area without a lifeboat loses all his passengers, food & water. A player who leaves the lifeboat launching area without a lifeboat is considered to be “swimming.”

And from the box lid:

You have to be ready to repel your fellow players’ attempts to board your lifeboat and take your food and water. It’s a merciless struggle, especially when the rescue ship heaves into sight – because the first player who reaches it with at least two passengers, two food and two water tokens is the winner. And what about the others? Well, you might say they’ve lost at sea.

And speaking of being repelled…

The New Game Across The Atlantic
“From Liverpool to New York without touching icebergs”
… came out three weeks after the Titanic sunk.

Some things never change.
That’s what old toys teach us.

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You’ve Seen The Movie…

…Now read the book! You’ve got to love these paperbacks. This one is tough, though, since it’s a translation from the French original.

“Look here!” said Gévigne. “I want you to keep an eye on my wife.”
“The devil! …Running off the rails, is she?”
“Not in the way you think.”
“What’s the matter, then?”
“It isn’t easy to explain… she’s queer. I’m worried about her.”
“What are you afraid of, exactly?”
Gévigne hesitated. He looked at Flavières…”

All right, I’ll try to remember that the Jimmy Stewart character has his accent mark pointed backward, and the Tom Helmore character has his pointing forward…

Wow, the movie’s in black and white, but the novelization is in color!

It’s 1962, and novelist (novelizationist?) Irving Schulman is coming off one of his biggest novelization successes ever, West Side Story, which went through over twenty printings. It shows you how far some people will go to avoid reading Romeo and Juliet.

Intriguingly, the original short story upon which the film is based is titled The Notorious Tenant. I’m guessing that the movie-going public was more intrigued by a notorious Kim Novak than a notorious Jack Lemmon.

Well, no, maybe it’s just Hollywood tradition.

In Rupert Hughes’ story, the patent leather kid is the girl who dances her way into men’s hearts. When First National films the epic two-and-a-half hour silent movie, however, they make Richard Barthelmess the patent leather kid, which is not to say that as a result he dances his way into men’s hearts, but rather that the film script swaps the names of the two lead characters. The name of Curly Boyle, the boxer/soldier of the story, is given to Molly O’Day’s character in the film.

No wonder there’s a note on the dust jacket stating: “Be sure to read the introduction BEFORE YOU BEGIN.”

Wow, the movie’s in color, but the novel is in black and white!

The on-screen chemistry between Hayley Mills and Eli Wallach is electrifying. Why were they never teamed again?

OK, OK, calm down, take a deep breath, and I’ll explain.

No, George Pal never made a sequel to The Time Machine. He wanted to, and this is a novelization of his script. Read the novelization and you will know why the movie never got made. George (The Time Traveler) and Weena (The Eloi pin-up girl) are killed in the first four pages, during World War II, presumably to set the stage for an all-new, cheaper cast.

The cover of the Time Machine II is calculatedly confusing. They put a Malcolm McDowell look-alike in Pal’s time machine, presumably because McDowell had appeared as a time-traveling H.G. Wells in the film Time After Time (which Pal had nothing to do with) two years before this paperback original came out. Parenthetically, there have been lots of sequels written to the H.G. Wells novella. Stephen Baxter’s The Time Ships is probably the best read of the lot, but the prize for best title goes to The Man Who Loved Morlocks, by David Lake.

Danny Kaye gets into trouble by extending credit to people who are clearly unacceptable credit risks, thus predicting the sub-prime mortgage crisis by a full 45 years.

Um, if you’re going to put Frankie Avalon into a post-apocalyptic tale of survival… shouldn’t it have been On The Beach?

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This Post Is Not About "Vertigo" …Not Exactly…

It’s about Karen Carpenter. Think of her as Madeleine Elster in Vertigo. The woman that Scottie Ferguson trails and then loses. She’s the blonde at far left.

It’s about Richard Carpenter, the multi-talented pianist/ arranger/ composer/ conductor who released a 1998 CD titled Richard Carpenter: Pianist, Arranger, Composer, Conductor. Think of him as Scottie Ferguson, the man in the middle of the Kim Novak sandwich above.

And it’s about Akiko Kobayashi. Think of her as Judy Barton, the woman that Scottie successfully transforms into a virtual Madeleine Elster. It would be very difficult to physically transform Akiko Kobayashi into Karen Carpenter. But in the recording studio, it’s another story.

Akiko, born in Tokyo in 1958, was an established singer with five albums to her credit when she came to the U.S. to record City of Angels in 1988. How Richard Carpenter came to be the producer for that album, we do not know. Akiko had been a fan of the Carpenters, so it’s possible that she sought Richard out. Richard Carpenter selected the songs for the album, arranged them, recorded them and played keyboards on every single one of the ten tracks. Carpenter also wrote one of the five songs Akiko sings in English on the CD, How Could I Ask For More, with lyrics by John Bettis, who had previously collaborated with Carpenter on hit songs like “Top of the World,” “Goodbye To Love,” and “Yesterday Once More.”

For my money, it’s the closest anyone has ever come to channeling the departed in a recording. It is a Carpenters record made five years after Karen’s sad death. It is the audio equivalent of the Vertigo scene where the fully transformed Judy Barton emerges as a perfect Madeleine… the verisimilitude is more than a little spooky. The song’s opening background vocals give hardcore Carpenters fans the shivers… and cause them to forget, at times, exactly to whom they’re listening.

How Could I Ask For More

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