House Industries: A Type of Learning REVIEW

Once again The Henry Ford Museum has delivered a fun and entertaining exhibit, this time presented by House Industries. And who is House Industries, and what is the purpose of this exhibit?

Well, Inspiration is everywhere, especially when you are obsessively curious. The artists of House Industries have followed their curiosity to earn international acclaim for a diverse body of work that ranges from fonts and fashion to ceramics and space travel. What has been created here is a multisensory exhibition that will inform, teach and, most important, empower people of all ages to follow their interests and never stop learning from what they like.

House Industries is known throughout the world for its eclectic fonts and far-reaching creative exploits.

A Type of Learning beautifully celebrates House’s method of design-thinking and encourages guests to think about their own curiosity, leaving them with an intoxicating sense of endless possibility. Such as:

Crow T. Robot & Tom Servo (MST3K)

Snake River Canyon Jumpsuit

I thoroughly enjoyed this eclectic exhibit! I hope to revisit it often during its run from May 27th to September 4th, 2017.

COOL RATING: 5/5 STARS

Few of the cool nouns I review on this site get a full 5 stars but this is deserved exception for sure. Truly something for everyone!

Velo (French for ‘Bicycle’) is a House Industries font

Inspiration really can come from anywhere!

Review: American Time and Timepieces at The Henry Ford

We always find something new to see and experience at The Henry Ford Museum (of American Innovation, if we use the new, fuller name). On our last trip, we found this permanent timepieces exhibit:

Personally, I feel we have become slaves of time. I hope for a day when we can enjoy a slower pace without the heightened sense of urgency that almost everything has these days.

But I digress. On to the timepieces in this exhibit:

No. They don’t play Dixieland music.

One of the first truly American clock designs coming from the early 1800’s.

Gallery Clock: 1800-1805

This brass clock would have been displayed in a church or public building, as most common people of the day would not have had personal timepieces. It features 8-day weight-powered movement. And… it has an eagle!

The railroad was one of the major reasons people needed a more exact way to tell time. If you were late, the train would leave without you! We got the time zone system because of the need for standardizing time between cities, and to avoid disastrous collisions due to time discrepancies.

Enlarge and read the many reasons why New England became a major clockmaking center.

Pendulum swing like a pendulum do!

Someone should put that line to music. Did you know that Galileo helped to develop the pendulum? The test above is designed to show that no matter where you start the swing of the pendulum, it will take about the same time to swing back and forth. I tried it and it’s true!

COOL FACT: Christian Huygens was the first to use pendulums to regulate clocks in 1657.

Inside that Grandfather Clock

This featured an 8-day weight-powered movement and was used in a variety of tall clocks. It also had an hour strike and a quarter chime. The example pictured was manufactured between 1682 and 1709.

Telling time old-school

This one only lasted 5 seconds (I guessed 6 seconds).

COOL FACT: Signage for this item also mentioned that our inner sense of time is not as accurate as many animals.

More Cool Facts

This exhibit also covered sundials and many other traditional forms of timepieces. Even one digital alarm clock that many of us may still punch every morning. Love that snooze feature!

I hope you enjoyed this brief visit to The Henry Ford Museum. It can be found at 20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn, Michigan.

Paul McCartney – The Music and Animation Collection

Everyone knows Paul McCartney from his time in the Beatles, and afterwards, his own efforts and popular work with Wings. He has also dabbled in scoring movies and writing classical music. Enough for anyone, right?

Enter the Paul McCartney – The Music and Animation Collection:

Enchanted Animated Tales with Original Music

This set contains three original animated tales featuring one famous bear (who is not named Pooh), one book adaption, and one completely original effort (my favorite!)

But before we go on, below is some information about the two men who led the teams that created these wonderful pieces:

The Collaborators

McCartney was definitely the man behind the music but equally important was the man behind the animation, Geoff Dunbar. Between them, I believe they produced some Oscar-worthy material!

Introduction Screen

Here you can select to play all three animated films in sequence, or select them one by one. There are also many extras to choose from, which we will touch on later.

Main Menu

You can choose from Rupert & The Frog Song (1984), Tropic Island Hum (1997), and Tuesday (2002).

Let’s have a look at each in turn:

Rupert Bear is a children’s comic strip character created by the English artist Mary Tourtel. He first appearing in the Daily Express newspaper on 8 November 1920. Rupert was a childhood favorite of McCartney and a natural selection for his first foray into animation.

Rupert Bear

Perhaps not as well know outside of the British Isles as Winnie the Pooh or Paddington Bear, Rupert is still a very popular character.

McCartney himself introduces the tale:

The book he is dusting off is presumably his own childhood copy of the original children’s book.

Shush! ‘The Frog Song’ is about to begin…

The Frog Song, actually called We All Stand Together, happens only once every 200 years or so, so listen now for you won’t have a chance to hear it again! It was released and  reached number three in the UK Singles Chart in 1984.

This animated film about Rupert stumbling upon the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of hearing The Frog Song is animated in a simplified style but with beautiful imagery. The highlight of the film, however, is the music.

Psychedelic!

One scene of the frogs swimming to the music is reminiscent of some of the work done for Disney’s Fantasia. Given how both collaborators praise Disney in the Special Features section, this homage is not surprising!

I just wonder why McCartney never did any more of the Rupert Shorts?

The next film is:

Disney-like Animation

A squirrel is saved by a hot air ballooning frog and taken to a tropical island where animals of all sorts have gone to escape slaughter by man. Upon arriving, the two new friends are welcomed with a song.

Love

Tropic Island Hum is a catchy, imaginative, animated musical romp! By far my favorite of the set. The single of the title song reached #21 in the UK. The animated Short accompanied Disney’s Hercules movie in theaters in 1997.

The final film in this set is:

This film is based on a children’s book by David Wiesner but contains no words, only images to convey the story. Other than croaking and a few comments from confused humans at the end of the story, and a final piece of narration by Dustin Hoffman, the film pretty much follows that storytelling device.

Flying Lilly Pads

The story takes place on a Tuesday around 8pm. Frogs are lifted into the air, much to their surprise, and enabled to fly. They do so, right into town, where they cause all sorts of mischief.

Like knocking on windows…

… and crashing houses to watch TV.

The town is left littered with debris and lily pads. The mystery is never solved. But this is not the end! It seems that this occurs every Tuesday, but not just with frogs:

Even pigs get a turn to fly!

And why now pigs? The closing narration tells us:

The events recorded here are verified by an undisclosed source to have happened somewhere, U.S.A.. on Tuesday. All those in doubt are reminded that there is always another Tuesday.” So… why not, I guess?

The Special Features are interesting:

This is a nice collection of extras that round out the DVD collection. The set comes with a 16-page booklet with details about the production:

COOL FACTOR: 5/5

I love Paul McCartney’s music. I love animation. So having the two together is just amazing! The quality of animation is Disney-worthy and the soundtracks and original songs are obviously good. McCartney himself provides most of the voices for all three films with an assist by wife Linda for one female character.

If you are a Disney fan, an animation fan, or a music fan, this collection is for you! If only to hear Tropic Island Hum. Man, that’s one catchy tune! See for yourself:

Dick Van Dyke: My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business

First off I must admit that I am a huge Dick Van Dyke fan. So I went into this memoir with an open mind (albeit somewhat clouded by fandom) and a desire to get to know the man a bit better.

I got what I hoped for! I hope you enjoy my…

B O O K    R E V I E W

 

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Type: Autobiography

Date: 2011

Pages: 290

ISBN: 978-0-307-59223-1

The forward is written by Carl Reiner who helped to put Van Dyke on the map back in the early 60’s with a certain little sitcom we all remember and love, The Dick Van Dyke Show. After reading this memoir, it’s obvious these two men have a great deal of respect for one another!

With Mary Tyler Moore in 1963

That brings me to the first thing I liked about this book. Van Dyke is generous with his praise of, and the giving of credit to, the many talented people who worked with him over the years. No ego here!

The book gives a nice overview of his childhood and the challenges of his early life trying to break into show business. I didn’t realize how many challenges he faced! But after his signature show was a success, things began to roll along nicely.

With Julie Andrews in 1964

I was happy to hear that he enjoyed working with Andrews on Mary Poppins as I am also a huge Disney fan!

With Walt Disney

The book contains one of my favorite Van Dyke/Disney stories involving how Van Dyke got the role of the old banker in Mary Poppins. Look for other insider tidbits about that movie also.

One disappointment as a fan of Van Dyke’s work was learning how he felt about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

With Sally Ann Howes in 1968

I won’t get into too many details about his issues with the movie. Suffice to say he had some valid points… but I still love his work on the piece!

He touches on many of the projects he did between Chitty and his Diagnosis Murder television triumph as well as his battle with alcoholism. On this point, I’d like to quote directly from the book to show what Van Dyke’s goal was in writing this memoir:

A word of warning about this book: If you are looking for dirt, stop reading now. I have had some tough times and battled a few demons, but there is nothing salacious here…. I have tried to write an honest story, with lightness, insight, hope, and some laughs.”

In my opinion, he has succeeded on all counts!

In the end, he leaves you believing he is as happy as he looks in the picture above.

COOL FACTOR: 5/5

Anyone with as extensive a career as Van Dyke could easily pen a larger volume and cover much more ground, but Van Dyke only hits the key moments with insight and asides designed to give the reader a nice look into his life without wearing him out with needless details.

Even if you aren’t a big Van Dyke fan, there is enough Hollywood name-dropping to keep you interested, but the book is interesting enough without it.

And for the rabid Dick Van Dyke fan I say, “Buy it! Read it! Love it!” I did.

Funnies: Book Review – Color Sundays (of) Mickey Mouse

I love reading about the history of things. When I was a kid, up until I was a young man, I collected comic books. Superhero stuff mainly but I always dabbled in comic strips as well. Sunday Funnies were a particular favorite and really the only part of the newspaper I ever read.

So when I saw this book entitled Color Sundays Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse, I knew I had to buy it!

History and Funnies!

Publisher: Gary Groth & Kim Thompson (Distributed by others)

Type: Hardcover

Pages: 280

ISBN: 978-1-60699-686-7

Year: 2013

Floyd Gottfredson (May 5, 1905 – July 22, 1986) had a long association with the Disney company.  He was an American cartoonist best known for his defining work on the Mickey Mouse comic strip.

He has probably had the same impact on the Mickey Mouse comics as Carl Barks had on the Donald Duck comics. Two decades after his death, his memory was honored with the Disney Legends citation in 2003 and induction into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2006. Both well-deserved honors!

Color Sundays is the second volume to cover this talented mans contribution to Mickey’s Sunday outings. As such, it picks up from 1936 and covers until the end of his run as a substitute to the strips in 1961.

The book is divided into too many sections to list in this review. To start though we are given a little history on the man and how he came to the assignment of the Sunday Funnies.

Next is the first section of actual strips:

Guess who’s coming to dinner!

We start with Mickey as the plucky hero who has to fight against the bigger foe to win the day or the heart of his true love, Minnie. No matter how hard he tries, something always goes wrong!

Next is a Robin Hood adventure, a section focusing on gag strips with Goofy as the main guest star, Sheriff of Nugget Gulch which puts Mickey and Goofy into the Wild West, and then:

Service with a devious smile

Mickey starts to show his mischievous side in this section as he isn’t above a little skullduggery to get his way, as seen in the picture above! The book stops every now and then to give us a look at some miscellaneous examples of Gottfredson’s artwork:

Goofy’s Inventions

After the above look at a panel from Mickey Mouse Magazine #59 (1940) we go back to a section highlighting an adaption of one of Mickey’s most famous Shorts:

Next we have a section dedicated to Gottfredson’s later years when he was only filling in on the Sunday Funnies. It’s mainly a collection of short gag strips.

Gottfredson mainly focused his work on the adventures of Mickey Mouse, but he did handle a long list of guest stars as well, such as:

Guest stars included Donald Duck, Lambert the Sheepish Lion, The Seven Dwarfs in a solo adventure, a Sleeping Beauty adaption, and a 101 Dalmatians tale (and yes, I did that on purpose).

Lastly we are treated to an archival section:

This section treats us to some original concept artwork, original cover reproductions, full-page paintings, and:

Some very nice looks into some of the characters Gottfredson worked with. The book ends with a brief visit with the heir to Gottfredson’s work on the Sunday Funnies, namely, Manuel Gonzales.

COOL RATING: 5/5

As a huge fan of both Mickey Mouse and comic strips this publication was a welcomed addition to my library. The book has a nice balance between informative back story and just page after page of funnies.

It was enlightening to learn about another man behind the mouse!

I purchased this book for the purpose of this review