Archive for June, 2008

I said Lydia, La La

Posted in Marx Brothers, Sites of Interest with tags , , , , , , on June 30, 2008 by Andrew T. Smith

A link has been posted in the comments section of my first post that I just have to flag up here in a post of its own. Dave Corey disects all the cultural references in the great, great Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg song Lydia the Tattooed Lady. For years I have listened to the song without questioning who Nijinsky was and now I know! Well worth checking out.


The Results Are In

Posted in Ramblings with tags , , , on June 28, 2008 by Andrew T. Smith

Sunderland University finally got around to posting everyone’s end of year academic results today and the verdict is in. For me, a first! To those not in the know that means the highest mark I can get.

So, what happens next?

Science Fiction becomes Science Fact

Posted in Ramblings with tags , , , on June 23, 2008 by Andrew T. Smith

Just a quick post today to highlight a truly astounding video. This is some footage released by a lab in Boston who are developing a robot named Big Dog. It is dated March and some of you may have already seen it but just in case you haven’t it is worth checking out. 100% genuine and 100% astounding.

The Joy and Sadness of Charity Shops

Posted in Ramblings with tags , , , on June 21, 2008 by Andrew T. Smith

Today I dragged Mrs. Drew into a couple of charity bookshops. Lurking amongst shelves of musty smelling paperbacks is a guilty hobby of mine. As per usual I found some great titles (The Cinema 1952 edited by Roger Manvell and Pauline Kael on the Best Film Ever Made, just in case anyone cares). I love second hand bookshops and charity bookshops in particular. These are books that people don’t want and that no-one places any real value in, if the owner thought they were worth a penny they would no doubt be on ebay in a flash, but one man’s junk is another man’s treasure and I have bought some really great reads over the years.

There is one thing that is always guaranteed to curb my enjoyment however. Occasionally one will be browsing the shelves and notice a complete or near complete collection of something. A pile of Star Trek books and tapes for example or the entire oeuvre of a particular author. I used to wonder what makes people decide to dump a collection wholesale like this but then it dawned on me that often the case me be that the owners probably didn’t have a choice; they were dead. This then creates a strange feeling. Am I rifling through a deceased human being’s once treasured collection?

All of this morbidity is of course put to one side when I stumble upon a desirable £1.50 paperback. Stuff the dead, reading is for the living! It does make me wonder though, what will happen to the mounds of stuff I leave behind one day? The more I think about it the more the thought of my lifetime’s hoard of books and epherma being thrown in the general direction of a charity bookshop seems fine by me.

Pieces of Time

Posted in Sites of Interest with tags , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2008 by Andrew T. Smith

I’d like to take the time to direct anyone reading this to a wonderful website entitled The Nutty Nut News Network, a repository of fantastic archive interviews with old time move stars, technicians and fans related to to work of Laurel and Hardy. I should also add a disclaimer at this point, I am actively involved with the site, all be it in a much smaller capacity than the founders Mike David and Dean McKeown. Basically I offered a few pointers and tips from the sidelines as they built this promising digital archive from the ground up

The foundations of the site were laid in 1983 when Laurel and Hardy fan Guido Cipriani conceived and distributed an audiotape magazine that would unite fellow film buffs across the globe and offer interesting features. Over the years literally hundreds of people were interviewed by various members of the Nutty Nut News Network organization and these recordings have now been digitized and made available for free online. Some of my favorite sections are linked below.



A two part interview with Henry Brandon and Anita Garvin. Brandon appeared in the Laurel and Hardy film Babes in Toyland as the evil Silas Barnaby but is perhaps better known as playing the villanous indian chief Scar in John Ford’s The Searchers. Anita Garvin was a frequent co-star of Laurel and Hardy, often playing one of their wives.



Mike David interviews the voice of Betty Boop and Olive Oil, Mae Questel. It’s amazing to think that at the time of recording Mae was in her eighties and still able to belt out tunes in that distinctive voice.



Tommy ‘Butch’ Bond was one of the original Little Rascals in Hal Roach’s Our Gang series.

All of these interviewees are now no longer with us and this sad fact only serves to heighten the value of these audio files. Important historical nuggets have been persevered forever thanks to the foresight of a legion of dedicated fans. I’m really proud to be associated with Mike and Dean. Mike has tirelessly catalogued and transfered the original tapes while Dean has built a fine website, a method of sharing the tapes free of charge to across the globe. More updates are to come over the next few months as more archive material is added. I only hope I can do their continuing work justice with a few projects lined up for the future…

And so it begins…

Posted in Marx Brothers with tags on June 20, 2008 by Andrew T. Smith

This is about my 100th attempt at kicking off a continuing blog, so fingers crossed this time. 

I don’t think there is any better way of setting the scene than with the following videos; a subtle hint at things to come.