Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Six Months of Me and You...

This is just a quick note to acknowledge that today is the six-month anniversary of Me and You and a Blog Named Boo! I've had an amazing time writing this blog, and I thank you for reading time and again. More great stuff is on the way.

See you on Friday!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Field Communications Internal Sales Tape 1980

I had so much fun discussing UHF TV with my friend and fellow blogger Todd Mason (check out his Sweet Freedom blog in my favorites section) in the comments section of my WKBS Channel 48 post, I decided to share with you this presentation tape made by station company Field Communications in the autumn of 1980. It shows the major primetime programming at all of their stations at the time. They certainly had a lot to be proud of in 1980; it's a shame the group owners couldn't put their personal animosity aside and build on their success (see my previous post about the company).

Sunday, April 20, 2008

La Linea

Although I try to program the blog in advance with thought-out themes and clips, sometimes I find things out-of-the-blue that are worth posting. This happens to be one of those times.

The other day I was looking at a YouTube clip I've had saved in my Favorites section for a long time, an old clip from Sesame Street. After viewing it, I saw a clip from The Electric Company highlighted in the right side of the screen; if you've been to YouTube, you're familiar with the area I'm talking about. That clip had highlighted the opening clip from an old 80s children's show called The Great Space Coaster. THAT clip, in turn, had highlighted something I hadn't seen in over 20 years and never thought to look for on the Web.

The Great Space Coaster used to air brief animations featuring a character that was made of only one pencil line and spoke nothing but gibberish. This character was often at the mercy of the artist, whose hand would be seen drawing on the spot for the character and his environs.

I've since learned that these cartoons originated in Italy and were called La Linea, also the name of the character. They first appeared in 1969 and were featured on television around the world for at least the next ten years. To my knowledge, the only time they appeared on American television was on The Great Space Coaster, which only ran for a couple of years in the early 1980s. They were only available on DVD in Europe for a few years some time ago and have never been available in any format in the US.

Here are several films of La Linea. I wish I could post all of them, they are so enjoyable.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Summer Movie Preview

Although the calendar says it's only mid-April, Hollywood believes summer is almost upon us. Every year, the film industry kicks off the summer season a few weeks before Memorial Day, which is when most of us begin our summer season in earnest. I've never quite understood why Hollywood does this, as a lot of people are still in work or school during May, but they do it every year. And they also wrap up the summer season before anyone else--have you ever noticed that August is when the studios release a lot of garbage? That's a whole month of summer they unwittingly give up for some strange reason.

Arguing about the way Hollywood does business is not the reason for this post, however. The purpose is to showcase some of the most anticipated films of the season. None of the movies featured here are highbrow art, but that's not what summer moviegoing is about, is it? Here are six films that Hollywood will be wooing you to the multiplexes with beginning in just two weeks!

First up: Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment present Iron Man, starring Robert Downey, Jr. as the titular character, and costarring Gwenyth Paltrow and Terrence Howard. Opens May 2nd. See what I mean by Hollywood's early start?

The very next week, Warner Brothers presents Speed Racer, adapted from the beloved anime series and starring Emile Hirsch as Speed, Susan Sarandon as his mother, and Lost's Matthew Fox as Racer X. Opens May 9th.

On May 22nd, welcome back to the silver screen Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I'm a huge Indiana Jones fan, so I'm psyched about this one.

Next up is another film based on a comic book, and one of my alltime favorite fictional characters: The Incredible Hulk, starring Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, and William Hurt, and presented by Universal. Note that this is NOT a sequel to the film Hulk directed by Ang Lee and released in 2003. The plotline starts from scratch with this one. Opens June 13th.

Back to Warner Brothers with a project long in the making: Get Smart, starring Steve Carrel as secret agent Maxwell Smart and Anne Hathaway as Agent 99. I just saw this trailer for the first time today, and it's hilarious! Opens June 20th.

Finally, another long-awaited film, and one that will be released with a very unfortunate cloud hanging over it: The Dark Knight, starring Christian Bale as Batman and the late Heath Ledger as the greatest comic book villain of all time, The Joker. I only saw two thirds of the previous Batman film, Batman Begins, and wasn't very impressed, but I'll give this sequel the benefit of the doubt. Opening, surprisingly to me, on the late date of July 18th.

I think I've covered the most anticipated films coming out this summer; let me know if there are any I missed, as I'm not as aware of the latest going-on in entertainment as I used to be. I'd like to see every one of these films, but chances are I'll only see them if they're on HBO next year, and even then I'll have to fight for the time to see them. I keep busy, folks.

Hooray for Hollywood!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

WKBS TV Channel 48 Philadelphia

This past month, I've twice mentioned programs I saw as a young boy on Channel 48 in Philadelphia during the late 70s/early 80s. Most of you likely wouldn't see it necessary to mention the specific channel those programs aired on, but others in the area around my age would understand.

Channel 48, WKBS TV in Philadelphia, was THE TV station for Philly kids back then. Most of the cool TV shows my friends watched appeared on that very station. Sure, we watched other stations' kids shows as well (Spider-Man on Channel 17, Star Blazers on Channel 29), but the large majority of the best shows were on Channel 48.

Channel 48 first signed on the air in Philly on September 1, 1965, and was owned by Kaiser Broadcasting. In 1972, Kaiser formed a partnership with another company, Field Communications, and eventually the two companies became one under the Field banner.

The two Field brothers who controlled the company had severe disagreements about how to run the group; their falling out with each other led them to sell the company's assets. Most stations were sold off, but Channel 48 was not. They discovered that there was greater money to be made by liquidating the station's assets and taking the tax write-off. Most equipment and programming rights were sold to rival Channel 17 and the license returned to the FCC. The station went dark on August 29th, 1983. I was away on vacation when I found out about the station and was devastated; when I turned the TV on after arriving home and saw nothing but snow, I couldn't believe it.

It may seem strange to lament the end of a TV station, but I had spent nearly half my young life devoted to them. I LIVED to watch it. The station's studios were not far from my neighborhood and I passed it in my father's car several times; I actually drew a picture of the buidling and hung it on the refrigerator.

I was a weird child.

Here is a very brief promo for the station:

Here are a few audio airchecks from the station (video from the station is very rare, I'm afraid). YouTube has disabled embedding for these clips, so here are the direct links.

For more on Channel 48, read here:

And here:

Here's an example of the awesome programming the station had to offer an 8-year-old on November 15, 1982:;wap2

And of course, there's always Wikipedia:


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Kingdom of Could Be You

Back on March 5, I wrote an article on the 1970s animated educational TV series The Most Important Person (a still picture from that series is now my Blogger profile icon). The program was designed to teach social skills to young children. The organization that created the series was named Sutherland Learning Associates, which also created another animated series, The Kingdom of Could Be You.

In this program, a wizard would take a group of children (who looked remarkably like the children from The Most Important Person) to the magical kingdom called "Could Be You," where the children would see and learn about the different careers they could have when they became adults. Just like The Most Important Person, these three-minute cartoons were shown between longer-form children's programming on independent TV stations around the country, most notably those owned by the Field Communications Group (WFLD Channel 32 in Chicago, WKBS Channel 48 here in Philadelphia) as well as WPIX Channel 11 in New York City.

Here now for you Generation X'ers out there are two examples of The Kingdom of Could Be You!

Speaking of Field Communications, this weekend I'll be espousing on their Philadelphia station, WKBS Channel 48, which was an institution here until...well, find out this weekend. Thanks!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

I've Been Through The Desert On A Post With No Name...

Hello everyone, and sorry I'm late. I promised I'd post by Friday, and I've obviously failed in keeping that promise. I won't waste more time--let's get to it!

First, I'd like to mention a couple of new favorite links. Please welcome Ladytink's blog Up Close and Personal. Ladytink is a frequent reader and commentator of this site, so I returned the favor and checked out her three--THREE!--blogs. The one I'm linked to now discusses her current goings-on and mentions what's happening at her other blogs, so I figured that one was a good place to start for new Tinkaphiles (I made that word up myself!). Thanks Tink!

I'd also like you to check out I'm Learning to Share, blogged by The In Crowd (but he's one person). That blog just celebrated its one year anniversary, but there seems to be ten year's worth of awesome material. Want to read about comic books? Check. Like to enjoy rips of 78 RPM vinyl records? Check. Do you admire commercial art design of the last century? Check again. That just scratches the surface of the wonderful stuff you'll find there. There's even a brand new podcast now, which I enjoyed very much yesterday.

Please check these and all of my favorite links. They're Geek-approved!

As for programming of my own, to be honest, I'm winging it today. No special theme or anything, although these clips do have something in commom--they'll all related to Japan in different ways.

First, enjoy the most amazing kitchen appliance commercial you'll see all day. From Japan, here is: Panda Toaster!

Next, and in a way a throwback to my strange McDonald's commercials posts, here is a remix of a Japanese McDonald's ad. It runs about five minutes, but if you only watch the first minute or two, you get the idea.

Finally, what I'm about to showcase is probably the strangest thing I've personally come across on the Net. This is a series of visual non-sequitors set to the original closing theme song to the Japanese version of Pokemon. It's been around since 2002, so you may very well have seen it before, as it was a Net sensation when it debuted. Don't even try to make sense out of it, because there is none to be found. Simply watch and be amazed.

When I post again (Tuesday-ish?) I promise I'll be better prepared. Thanks!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Fool!

Hello again, faithful readers--all four of you. I hope you enjoyed opening day of baseball better than I did (Nationals 11, Phillies 6--augh!).

Today, as you know, is April Fools' Day, a time when people like to play (bad) practical jokes. I wouldn't do that to you, but I do have practical jokes played by others for you to enjoy.

First up, and coinciding with the start of baseball, is a joke played on Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick by, well, every other member of the Phillies organization. Kendrick was told by the team manager that he was being traded to Japan. SPRING TRAINING FOOL!!

Next, two clips from the 80s TV show Bloopers and Practical Jokes, hosted by broadcasting stalwarts Dick Clark and Ed McMahon. Merv Griffin is their victim in this clip:

Alex Trebek is next:

Finally, poor Justin Timberlake sees his new home raided by supposed IRS agents, who in fact are part of Ashton Kutcher's MTV hit Punk'd.

Stay alert for jokers in your world today, and I'll see you again no later than Friday with...gee, I don't know yet. But I'm sure it will be fantastic!