Saturday, December 13, 2008


And you can tell that this has been a slow week here at BLOG TO COMM central if I have to rely on one of these old standbys to getcha through the weekend doldrums! Well, it hasn't been that slow, and I do have more than a few irons in the fire w/regards to some pretty IMPORTANT and LIFE-SHATTERING posts being readied up for the near future, but for now I guess I'll just have to fill you in on just a few of the things that have been flibbin' my jib as of the last week or so in order to do my duty and try looking "important". Some of these things admittedly are reruns of previously-mentioned wonders that continue to orbit my pleasure dome while others are totally new to not only this blog, but perhaps every other blog from here to Kalamazoo and back, but anyway no particular order or ranking and stuff like that even though these are numbered in order to look "neat"...


When I was a kid I used to get scared silly when, right in the middle of my favorite afternoon cartoon program or whatever was being aired that my mother had put on to babysit me suddenly a conelrad test would appear on the screen proceeding to get eyes a' cryin' and perhaps pants a' wettin'. I'm sure you older readers of the blog will remember these tests that seemed to pop up on television screens nationwide after the Cuban Missile Crisis sorta jetted the collective blood pressure of this nation up a few notches, at least to the point where even Bob Dylan had nada faith in any sorta future so he wrote "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" with each line representing a subject matter he felt he would never have time to extrapolate on considering the pending doom. And really, who could forget the sudden appearance of the then-familiar Civil Defense "logo" filling up the screen and the ominous announcer telling us gathered bomb freak kids "this is only a test", followed by that ear-piercing shriek which was enough to make any toddler scream bloody murder all heck!

I remember once when I was lying on the couch with a bloody nose perhaps caused by too much deep-picking and naturally the tee-vee was on, and what else but a conelrad test once again interrupts all programming frightening me to no end! Worse still. I couldn't exit stage right because I was told by mom to lay on my back whilst holding a moistened washrag held to my schnozz lest I get the braided family rug all soiled with blood! Sheesh, even the severe weather announcements of the day, usually with a cracked glass slide shown backwards and upside down, weren't as doom-laden as those surprise conelrad tests! Neither were the special bulletins telling us such pertinent factors about various space shots and Kennedy getting killed in Dallas for that matter!

Pretty soon though conelrad gave way to the Emergency Broadcast System and the fancy mid-sixties-style full color EBS logo which was a big part of television viewing until the relatively recent introduction of the Emergency Alert System. (I remember when they first came out with EBS and I thought it was going to be a new television network that was going to be filled with interesting, dangrous types of television viewing dealing with national!) After the Cold War started to creep to a snail's pace EBS began to be used for the same weather emergencies that those old cracked slides once did, and even this far down the line it's heartening to know that at least the spirit of conelrad lives on whenever a severe storm is spotted over some trailer park and it's time to head on down to the basement before your ninety-year-old aunt calls you up to tell you to do the exact same thing like she has for the past seventysome years!

Searching for conelrad on youtube, I found the following two mock-takes on what would happen if it wasn't a test but the real deal schpiel! The first one seems accurate enough even if it is in color, complete with that authentic-sounding voice of doom that I would have imagined some nameless authority complete with a butch cut and pockmarked face to have boomed to us had there been an actual emergency in 1963:

This second one is equally unnerving, and to add some sort of authenticity to the proceedings it actually sports the call letters and frequency of Zanesville Ohio's WHIZ-TV channel 18, perhaps created by a loyal fan of the station who wanted to pay tribute to his early-sixties viewing days with this bit of nostalgic shock:

Both of 'em do have that real-life high-intensity ability to strike fear into youngsters and the squeamish and I'll bet that if these had somehow gotten around in the early-sixties they would have induced more than a few scary nightmares in the minds of aw-shucks freckle-faced kids nationwide! And dontcha think it woulda been great if some snide Eddie Haskell of a kid back then got hold of these and somehow had the technohow to break into Aunt Mabels' tee-vee while she was watching QUEEN FOR A DAY and make like Kruschev was actually getting ready to nuke Podunk Iowa? Imagine the panic, especially when said kid hadda call the paramedics to help revive ol' Mabe! That'll teach her for finding those NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICs under your mattress!

2) SNIFFLES CARTOONS (Warner Brothers, circa late-30s to 1946)

Not having seen many of the old Warner Brothers cartoons in what seems like eons (and surprisingly enough, soon as the abode got hooked up to a satellite dish after years of UHF and nothin' but both the Cartoon Network and its subsidiary Boomerang had dropped all of the Warners cartoons either believing that the Bugs Bunny audience had died off or that they could rake in more cash with the umpteenth rerun of MIKE, LOU AND LU) I find myself tuning into youtube to see these shoulda been branded into my skull by now classics all the more. Of course I seem to be watching my childhood fave THE DOVER BOYS AT PIMENTO UNIVERSITY more often than not plus the early Warners-era Tex Avery cartoons are great especially after getting inundated with his MGM=period 'toons every night on Boomerang, but it's sure great to see those SNIFFLES cartoons once again, especially after havning not seen 'em since the seventies around the time when local television started dropping its fifties/sixties roots and began modernizing with boring talk shows and other decidedly anti-fun and games programming.

I'll betcha that most of you staunch self-consciously masculine BLOG TO COMM readers think that Sniffles was a sissyfag character solely for that turdlers and those amongst us who sympathize with 'em, but I gotta admit that, thanks to the genius of the Warners' animation department these Sniffles cartoons hold up pretty well even when they're getting into a cuter-than-thou frame of mode. Of course the boss animation and general Warners style helps out more often than not, and really, if Bill Shute could claim that he could howl himself silly while listening to Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll read the telephone book in their AMOS 'N ANDY dialect then I can easily enough claim that I could watch any classic-era Warners cartoon and enjoy myself, even if it is one of those FANTASIA swipes Chuck Jones was doing before he started to get on the ball.

Anyhoo here's what's supposed to be the final Sniffles cartoon from '46 which also doubles as a neat spoof of the old DUFFY'S TAVERN radio/TV show. By this time Sniffles began to affect the motormouth stream-of-consciousness speaking style of Florence Lake in the Edgar Kennedy comedies to the point where you'd almost expect a fat and bald mouse to start saying "Sniffles...shut up!" and his character began taking on this surprisingly crafty demeanor sorta like a miniature Bugs Bunny himself! Too bad the Sniffles series had to fizzle out like it did, because at least HUSH, MY MOUSE showed that the character still had the potential and charm and all of that other gunk that goes into making long-lasting commercial property:

3) Le Stelle di Mario Schifano-DEDICADO A... CD (Akarma Italy)

Click here for the original review of this VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO homage/swipe, but I for one think it was a whole lot better to swipe ideas from the Velvets, and in the late-sixties, than it was swipin' 'em from Jerry Garcia! Next to PTOOFF! one of the best mergings of pop art ideals and high energy rock that, like its inspiration, seemed to foreshadow everything good that would happen in rock & roll for the next ten to twelve years before it ALL fell into the ocean!

Not the slim jim processed shards of fat soaked in pork grease being sold nationwide, this is the real-deal stuff selling in the meat department at various outlets across the tri-city area. Tasty beefy sorta mini-salamis only without most of that nauseating white fat and with a nice smokey flavor, these make a great chaser to the spinach salads I've been eating for lunch in order to upgrade my bowel movements from concrete to sludge. Other than for the once-in-awhile hunks of gristle that catch you by surprise, a nice addition to any overtly green meal.
5) HYPERION fanzines circa 1972-1975

Read here and here for earlier opinions on this long-forgotten fanzine that never did make it to the upper echelon of fine self-produced rock screeding like it shoulda, and that's even despite a great Lester Bangs plug in a 1975-era "Rockarama" which you thought woulda generated a lot more attention than it ultimately did! With rock writing having long hit the skids (just see what kinda bozos have been getting the press space and accolades since the eighties while the real geniuses go on starvin'!) to the point where it's even hard enough to find that much good even on the internet for FREE, it's sure great diving back into the oft-loathed past to read Mark Jenkins and company's smart appreciations of what was passing for youth under-the-counterculture during those halcyon days of the early/mid-seventies long before everything hadda be dumbed down to a vulgar political statement. Plus it's sure great to cast your eyes upon articles about such things as the Velvet Underground, reruns of THE PRISONER and unabashed singer/songwriter loathing long before it became the hotcha thing to do and everybody started jumping on the cheap-chic bandwagon!
6) Camberwell Now-ALL'S WELL CD (ReR)

Not exackly my cup of tea, but I find this post-This Heat group's music a good enough mix of (pardon the irritating term) "post-punk" and rock in opposition-styled prog to even keep a curmudgeon like myself at least partly comatose. Not as feral as the original well from whence all that English experimentation spouted, but it's good enough for those of you who used to listen to Robert Wyatt in the seventies, and kinda felt embarrassed by it by the time 1980 hit the calendar.

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