Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from Histeria's Father Time and the (Big Fat) New Year's Baby.   

Farewell, 2011, we hardly knew ye!  And welcome, 2012!

May the new year be a great one for all of you, and for everyone important in your lives.  

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Card from Warner Bros. Animation, 1999

Bugs Bunny, Scooby Doo, Superman, Taz, Buster Bunny and Babs Bunny (no relation), Yakko, Wakko and Dot Warner (related), Michigan J. Frog, Pinky & the Brain, Tweety and Sylvester, Wile E. Coyote, Father Time and Big Fat Baby from "Histeria," Batman from "Batman Beyond" and the cast from "Detention" wish you Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's A Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special Logo

Here's the logo for "It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special" which first aired on December 6, 1992.   This image was used in trade ads, in newspaper reviews, and in "TV Guide" promotions.   Whoever ordered this artwork must have requested "extra cel-shadows."  That request was granted.   

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas with Laurel & Hardy

To celebrate the season, here are some holiday images from movies made by Laurel & Hardy, who remain among the very top comedy teams in the history of the movies.  

In "Big Business" (silent, 1929),  Stan and Ollie are door-to-door Christmas tree salesmen who run into a very difficult customer in the form of their recurring nemesis, James Finlayson.  

While it seems a little strange that Laurel & Hardy are dressed in winter attire in a sunny Southern California landscape filled with palm trees, in the end, what matters is the comedy of perfectly-timed and ever-escalating destruction.  

As a kid, my family owned a super-8 mm copy of this movie -- bought for $8.99 from Blackhawk Films out of Davenport, Iowa.   It's the only movie we owned.  When our projector was functioning, which wasn't often, we'd thread this baby up, turn out the lights, and project it onto a sheet.  Movie night! 

In another classic, "Below Zero" (talkie, 1930), Laurel & Hardy are pan-handling street musicians playing the one song that they know, "In the Good Old Summertime," in the middle of a blizzard.   

This isn't a Christmas movie, per se, but it has a very wintry feel, and brilliant comic timing throughout. 

My Uncle Richie --  Richard McLaughlin, writer and author of the novel "Into the Dangerous World" -- was a film buff who saw almost every film that came out in his many years living in New York City.   He was a big fan of Laurel & Hardy, and once made a comment that I've never forgotten.  

Uncle Richie said:  "It's too bad they never made a short about trimming a Christmas tree.   I always thought that Laurel and Hardy would be able to turn the trimming of a Christmas tree into something hilarious."  

I think Uncle Richie was right.  

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's A Wonderful Life

For me, "It's A Wonderful Life" is the ultimate Christmas movie.   

But when I was very young, I happened to watch part of it on TV and had no idea what it was or what it was about, and it freaked me out.  From my five-year-old point of view, it seemed to be a scary domestic drama that featured a husband yelling at his wife, the wife crying, the kids weeping ("What's wrong with daddy?"), the mother encouraging them to pray for him, followed by a bar fight, the husband considering suicide, and the mother turning dowdy, apparently losing her mind and being unable to even recognize her increasingly-desperate husband -- Yikes!  A total nightmare!    

So, whenever I got scared by something in the movie, I ran out of the TV room and hid, just like I did when Lou Costello unwittingly sat on the monster's lap in "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein."  I ran out of the TV room a bunch of times during "It's A Wonderful Life."  No doubt I missed many crucial plot points during my frequent absences.  Finally, too spooked by the increasingly-bizarre story ("You were never born."  What?!?),  I ran out of the TV room and stayed out.  I could watch no longer. 


Years later, I sat down and watched "It's a Wonderful Life" from start to finish.  The opening is pretty crucial to understanding the plot, and I had missed that starry set-up when I was young.  I was  happy to learn that the movie was actually about a man who had lost his way and who found redemption through the love of his family, his friends, and thanks to a little heavenly intervention.    (During my previous viewing, I had not only missed the opening, but I had bolted before the happy ending.)  

Now I watch the film every few years at Christmastime, and have to fight back tears when the townsfolk show up at the end, chip in to pull George's cookies out of the fire, and toast George as "the richest man in town."  Just thinking about it makes me a little misty.  

Just one question:  Why is Uncle Billy ever allowed to handle the Building & Loan's funds?  I mean, really.  The guy is clearly non compos mentis.  He unwittingly handed a huge wad of the Building & Loan's cash to Old Man Potter and then sauntered off as if he didn't have a care in the world.  

I'm thinking that on the first work day after Christmas, at the Bailey Building & Loan, George forces Uncle Billy into an early retirement and a rigorous 12-step program.  

 Now there's an even happier ending! 

 Merry Christmas to all!    

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Santa Claus by Haddon Sundblom

When I was a kid, one of the things I looked forward to at Christmastime was the annual Coca-Cola advertisement created by the remarkable illustrator Haddon Sundblom.   Clement Moore's 1823 poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" may have describe the jolly old elf in detail, and Thomas Nast's 1881 caricature of Saint Nick may have brought the image of Santa into focus, but not until the middle of the 20th century did one artist perfect the image of Santa and make it stick.  That artist was Michigan-native Haddon Sundblom (1899-1976), who created expressive paintings of the magical Mr. Claus for the Coca-Cola Company over a period of 33 years.  Here are three of my favorite Sundblom Santa ads...