Monday, January 16, 2012

My weekend vinyl pleasures

In trying to keep up my little space on the web, I thought I'd go through my playlists that won't get posted: my vinyl listening.
This weekend, while pounding away at the keys, and not wanting to be distracted by putting on the TV, I just dug out some LPs. Got the ION turntable plugged into the computer anyway, and was intending to screen all my vinyl to start listing them on GEMM. I am admitting right here, in my scramble to leave no penny unturned, I'm discussing my listening with an affiliate link to the iTunes store.
Iggy Pop, Lust for Life (1977) remains, how shall I put it, "timeless." It's title track is a tribute to Iggy's long career as a heroin addict that would never get airplay if recorded today. It was used in its proper context in the movie Trainspotting, then was appropriated by clueless advertising execs for a cruise line's TV campaign. How Family-friendly! iTunes
Renaissance, Novella (1977). Even if you've had it with Prog Rock, this is a slightly refreshing package, made different by having a female lead singer in Annie Haslam, and a greater emphasis on classical and European folk elements over rock, though sometimes it's every bit as bombastic as Emerson, Lake & Palmer.iTunes
David Bowie, Alabama Song (1980). From Kurt Weill and Bertoldt Brecht's Rise And Fall Of The City Of Mahagonny. Apparently this was pushed out in 1980 as a way to hasten the end of Bowie's contract with RCA. Bowie sure sounds like he could do justice to the material. My German import 12" had it backed with Jacques Brel's "Amsterdam." I got it for the "B" side, "Space Oddity," but found it was a 1980 re-make. Whose orchestration sounded a lot like "Mother" by John Lennon.iTunes

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Hobbit Condensed

Some months ago, the cartoonbrew blog posted a YouTube video that had unearthed a long-lost pilot for a Howdy Doody cartoon film series, made on spec for "Buffalo Bob" Smith and NBC by animator Gene Deitch ("Tom Terrific" among many others). That film was thought lost for many years until someone unearthed a copy and posted it to YouTube.

Now another long-lost film has resurfaced, this one with a slightly bizarre history. But it offers insight to the weird world of movie making. The link below has the actual YouTube, and I am encouraging you to visit the fun that is Cartoon Brew to see the video. But the condensed version of this condensed version is this: in 1964, when J.R.R. Tolkein was just another fantasy author on Ballantine's backlist, the author's estate sold the movie rights to "The Hobbi" to a producer named William Snyder, who had done some work with Deitch and had picked up Deitch's Oscar for his cartoon "MONRO" in 1961. Snyder pitches Deitch on the project, he works up a screenplay, and makes a pitch for a full-blown animated venture to 20th Century Fox, which turns them down flat.

Meantime, by 1966, "Lord of the Rings" has been issued in paperback and Tolkein is now a cult favorite. J.R.R.'s estate gets a bigger offer for "The Hobbit," and prepares to let their contract with Snyder expire within a month, so they don't have to pay him anything.

Snyder notes that the contract only stipulated that he deliver "a full-color film adaptation of 'The Hobbit'" by deadline time. No mention of how long it had to be, nor how GOOD it had to be. So Snyder tells Deitch to tear up his script and produce a quickie animated version on one reel of film within 30 days. Which he does. Note that the movie is not so much animated as it is a still life with camera pans. But Snyder delivers a film, Tolkein's estate learns a valuable lesson about Hollywood contract, and "The Hobbit" and the whole "Lord of the Rings" trilogy passes through several hands over the next 25 years, briefly emerging as a made-for-TV cartoon and an odd bit by Ralph Bakshi, before emerging full-blown with Peter Jackson.

I'm just glossing in details. Click the link below for more of the story.