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Showing posts from August, 2019

AND ALL I HAVE TO DO IS ACT NATURALLY [194]

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For the life of me, I cannot remember how I tripped up on this cartoon, but here it is, it exists, and I must now deal with that fact: the Beatles had their own Saturday morning cartoon series in the United States, made from 1965 to 1967, and it looks bloody awful. The idea for “The Beatles” came from Al Brodax, a TV producer with a track record of developing new programme formats who, in 1960, joined King Features Syndicate, a company which syndicates content to newspapers like columns, puzzles and games, and comic strips. “Popeye” was the first of their strips to get a new series on television, with Brodax overseeing 220 new shorts between 1960 and 1962 – these are the ones where Bluto was renamed “Brutus,” when they thought they didn’t own the character, but actually did. These were followed with a revival of “Krazy Kat,” “Beetle Bailey” and “Snuffy Smith,” but seeing The Beatles perform on “The Ed Sullivan Show” defined the rest of Brodax’s career. Unfortunately, the a

I AM SOMETHING THAT YOU’LL NEVER UNDERSTAND [193]

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At the time of writing, a week has passed since the animated special “Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling” was released on Netflix. To those that used their smartphones to whine and wail online about their childhood being ruined yet again, when the show revealed that the cane toad Ralph Bighead, creator of the show-within-a-show “The Fatheads,” had transitioned into Rachel in the intervening twenty years, they couldn’t have done that without the work of a transgender woman: Sophie Wilson, of Acorn Computers, developed the instruction set for the first ARM processor, and worked with colleague Steve Furber to produce the first chip. Be more like Rachel, Sophie and Steve. I was happy to be reminded about the Dada-like nature of Rachel Bighead’s show: The Fatheads themselves, two green creatures hitting themselves over the head with parking meters, or being showered with pineapples, the smarmy narrator asking what will happen next, the line “did you eat another solicitor,” and a laug

PLASTIC PALACE PEOPLE SING SILENT SONGS [192]

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Most people do not plan a day of their holiday around visiting a shopping mall. Then again, the builders of the Trafford Centre, based along the Manchester ship canal, realised that building a shopping mall was not going to be enough. When I visited it, I was left making comparisons with the Palace of Versailles, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Alexandra Palace, and Crystal Palace. I was meant to be buying some shirts. The Trafford Centre was first proposed in 1986, but a decade-long fight over planning permission meant it would not open until 1998. John Whittaker was chairman of Peel Holdings, which owned the land – originally used by Ford to open its first Model T car factory outside of North America – and he explanation, to the “Financial Times” in 2011, why the Trafford Centre isn’t a carbon copy of the Manchester Arndale, the existing centre based file miles away: “When we first started the architects said, ‘you shouldn’t be doing all this and giving it all the razzmatazz and sh

GET INTO THE GROOVE [191]

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I stand in front of a painting of two figures - one hand a hole in their torso, and is being used as a hula hoop by the other. Their outlines are painted in white acrylic, within a white outline, on red tarpaulin (not canvas – the metal eyelets have been used to fix it to the wall), and all the remaining space within the outline is filled in with short black-lines, zig-zagging and curving around each other. I look closer. It is not hard to see the artist’s brush strokes, as the lines are roughly an inch wide, but the light in the gallery shows up both the thickness of the paint, and the speed with which it was applied – the drip marks either mark moments of consideration for the artist, or the failure of the paint to keep up with them. I first discovered the art of Keith Haring around fifteen years ago. Already used to the primary colours and thick outlines of Matt Groening’s creations like “Life in Hell,” “The Simpsons” and “Futurama,” Haring’s works appeared superficially