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1979: Albert's (in Omaha) is lit!

Friday, September 12, 2008

morbid makeover

In one of my last photo expeditions to local graveyards around West Springfield, I took pictures of photos of loved ones that were incorporated into the stones themselves. These make me a little sad, and it was even more poignant to see how one photo in particular had deteriorated over the years.

stone photo before

Here's a young male, dates unknown because all the writing is in Hebrew (or perhaps Yiddish; I don't know how I could tell) except for a surname at the bottom. Many times I have looked at my pictures of this photo and thought it might be possible to use the paint bucket tool to fill in the missing areas with a dark shade and see the original photo. It wasn't so simple.

I ended up using the clone tool to pick up areas of shade and apply the tints here and there. Some of what I did was completely arbitrary, so it may be that this is not a real image of the deceased.

stone photo after

Nonetheless, I felt like I had a better idea of how this person had looked. Due to some of my own efforts, it's possible I have distorted the apparent gender of the loved one here, but a photo taken farther back shows what seems to be a young boy. It's kind of rough -- a more finished job might have taken twice as long, and it's getting late.

Anyway, that's what I did after work today.

Originally posted to LJ on 20080728.

ps: Thanks to Susan de Guardiola, in comments, for providing the translation of the tombstone. We now know who this young woman was. May she rest in peace. The impression of maleness was the result of deterioration of the picture and nothing else.
here's a fine how-do-you-do

I've raved before about the 1970 Bell Telephone Hour recording of "The Mikado" in which Groucho Marx plays Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner of Titipu. Thanks to one of my pals here, I even have a copy of it.

For those who don't, I'll just say again that the first time I heard this, I thought it must have been re-written for Mr. Marx, when, in fact, it was not changed one bit. The show was carved down to an hour -- minus time for breaks and such -- by the expedient of trimming away much of what didn't directly concern Mr. Marx. I believe I approve, since it's always possible to find a complete performance, but how often can one get the chance to hear such an inspired bit of casting?

It is now possible for others to get the recording, in 320kbps mp3 files, from ReDiscovery, a music vendor who specializes in rescuing obscure classical performances and selling them at budget prices. This is in their "Paperback Classics" series, and is offered free of charge. Dang!

The company also reissues some of the "Basic Library of the World's Great Classics," which used to sell in grocery stores for a dollar, one album a week. We had a bunch of these in my house growing up, and I used to read the booklets that came bound into the box, and even listen to some of the anonymous performances. I saw the first nine releases of the collection at an estate sale last week, and had to restrain myself from buying them all again (having painfully forced myself to part with all but a tiny sample of them years ago in an effort to reduce the bulk of my records). ReDiscovery has done detective work and found out who the artists were who recorded most of them, and if you buy their records, you too will know. They're nice performances.

The link is above. Look down at the bottom of the page, and there's Groucho's doing the Mikado (with some help from Helen Traubel, Stanley Holloway, and some other people, including two guys named Gilbert and Sullivan). You'll be taken to a download page where you'll need to click on the two parts (side one and side two, I'll wager) to go to yet another page that will finally give you this wonderful recording. The link in this paragraph will tell you more about the cast and so forth. If any of you ever find a video recording of this TV special, please, please, let me know. (Same goes for Peter Schickele's performance of the PDQ Bach Concerto for Piano vs Orchestra on "Evening at Pops" around 1974-5.)

If you've never heard this classic tale of love and decapitation, this is a splendid introduction. And if you like it, do what they always advised at the end of every Classics Illustration adaptation and go out and get the whole thing. The parts they cut out are as good as what they left in. Go.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

two great tastes

We all love middle English, and we all love legacy comic strips, whose creators have moved on to that great bullpen in the sky. "Angry Kem," rightly divining these sentiments in society, has leaped to combine them into one, easy-to-digest web site, Japes for Owre Tymes.

JfOT is now in its second great day. Don't get run over: leap on the bandwagon now!

Angry Kem is a commentator at The Comics Curmudgeon, as am I ("Muffaroo"). Don't say I never give you any good links.

Monday, September 08, 2008

from memory
My prepared cutting for theater auditions in recent years has been a composite speech taken from various utterances of a character named Slanthead Elder in H. Allen Smith's novel, Mister Zip (written before the US Postal Service launched its ZIP code campaign with the psychotic-looking little mailman who can still be seen, in plywood form, in select post offices around our country). Slanthead is a sidekick and confidante of the earnest young TV cowboy who gives the book its name, and from time to time he dispenses opinions to Zip, who thinks there is such a thing as The Real West:

There ain't no West. I was what you call a real cowboy, thirty years ago, up in Wyomin'. Now, you take back in the 1880s, maybe they was a west that's a little like they got it in books and movies. But come to think, not much like.

You know how we got it now -- about all you got to do with cattle is herd 'em a little, and rustle 'em, and unrustle 'em, and drive 'em through the pass. Hell's fire, boy! You oughtta see what a real cowboy's gotta go through with them critters!

First place, a cow's the dumbest animal in the world. Mean. Ornery. A mule ain't in it fer bein' stubborn. One a the worst jobs a real cowboy has on a ranch is pullin' the bog. The stupid critters get sunk in the bogs and got to be hauled out, so you get some ropes on 'er, and two or three fellas on horses start pullin', and eventually you drag the son-of-a-bitch out. And what does she give you in the way a gratitude? In-verryibly, she tries to kill you! Tries to kill the men what saved her stinkin' life!

And the doctorin' you got to do! A critter has almost always got some kind a disease, and if she does have a short spell of health, why, then the bugs are at 'er and you got to fight them, and if you lay your hat down on the ground, she'll walk right over and crap on it, and all the time you're not playin' nurse-maid to these dumb bastards, you're workin' like a section hand, workin' in the hay-fields, fixin' fence, hoein' crops, and, so help me, hangin' out the warsh for the missus o' the ranch!
Elder has other choice speeches that would have made my selection too long for most directors. He holds forth on how stupid the other cowboys were ("That's all they got to talk about -- what's the shortest way to town.") and, when he gets drunk enough, Ole Hitler ("He's got a cave big as a soundstage back there in the hills, with slave labor turnin' out adam bombs like Gineral Moders makes Shivverlays!"). I left some out, so as not to ruin the entire book in advance. Just another service for you, the discriminating reader!
ps: No matter what I try, the text in this post looks larger than all my other posts. Goodbye, consistency. I hardly knew ye.

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