Tom Lehrer Rarities Revisited - Volume 4 (Leaping Fox)

It's a funny thing.  I started this blog to upload strange or interesting records that I find at flea markets and thrift stores, and occasionally talk about collecting.  But mostly it's been a way to feature my own compilations, and in doing so, I get to correspond with lots of interesting people. 
Last Christmas, when I unleashed my remastered collection of TOM LEHRER RARITIES upon the world, little did I know that it would end up putting me in touch with Mr. Lehrer, the man, himself! (By the way, he was very happy with the discs, and I was privileged to send him a copy personally, and exchange letters with him!) My one goal was to celebrate his work, and point more people in the direction of buying it, of course.
It's been one of the most popular downloads here, and even appeared on some torrent sites for download.  And then, I got a very nice comment from a Sphinx patron, Grammarian, who shared with me an hour-long BBC special that Tom Lehrer narrated, called "Self Biopic."  It was then I knew that there would be a Volume Four.  Add to that a couple of other items that have surfaced over the last year, and you have a finished disc.
The other "new" items in question are an additional performance from "The Frost Report," and the soundtrack to the "Pollution" environmental short, made by Astrafilms, and viewable on YouTube. There are actually two versions--the first (1966) uses the original live performance of the song that was released on LP, and the second (1967) is of even more interest, since Mr. Lehrer recorded a new studio version of the song especially for the film.
 So, therefore, I think this is this year's "Christmas present to the world." I hope it is enjoyed.  And, I'll have to be sure and send Mr. Lehrer a copy! Let's hope that some more "holy grails" surface for 2012.

LINK: Tom Lehrer Rarities Volume Four
NOTE: Please see elsewhere on this very blog for other volumes, and more!


the studio - "it is (what it is)" (2011)

Here's a very entertaining distraction from your work day:  original song + two guys playing all parts + pawn shop instruments = coolness!


World's Greatest Monsters Rodan (Mattel, 1979)

"REUNITED and it feels SO GOOOOOD!"
As of today, I am thrilled to say, I am the proud owner of a gorgeous Mattel "World's Greatest Monsters" Rodan, made in 1979.  Shogun Warriors Godzilla is thrilled to see him! Everything you have ever read about this toy is true--it is excellent in every way, and the details are fantastic.  I am also happy to check off one of the bigger items on my want list of Godzilla collectibles! To paraphrase Percy Shelley: "If Rodan comes, can the original Ideal Godzilla board game be far behind?"



I am thrilled to say that the best release of the year finally made it to my mailbox yesterday.  Not only is DESTROY ALL MONSTERS my favorite film of all time, and not only has it been given the Blu-Ray treatment, but Media Blasters has knocked it out of the park, and far out into the universe with this one!

However you prefer to watch this epic film, it's available here! Do you prefer the International Dub (the one first released to DVD)? Well, if you do, I don't really know why, but it's here! Do you prefer the classic AIP dub, that most Americans are used to seeing--including the vocal talents of the great Paul Frees, Hal Linden, and others?? Well, it IS here, at last, available on legitimate DVD! And finally, if you prefer watching the film in original Japanese with English subititles, to get the full experience, well, my friends, that is here too.
Oh wait, there is yet another possibility in the "surprises" that Media Blasters hinted at! You can also watch the original 8 MM version of the film! This was a real surprise to me, because I could swear that my version is silent, as many kaiju reels were, (and black-and-white) but this one is in color, with sound.  I need to do some Googling on that topic, because others (like Rodan and Mothra) are silent, and usually have superimposed subtitles for any dialogue.  Either way, this was a real treat from Media Blasters, and just the tip of the iceberg--there is plenty more to enjoy.

I didn't even get to the experience of watching the climactic kaiju slug-fest in Blu-Ray quality....if I go on, I will need to take another shower.  Yes, there were delays, as reported by Scifijapan.com, and for some reason, even Amazon couldn't get this to me very quickly, but THANK YOU, Media Blasters, for your attention to quality on this one!
As a footnote, by the end of the month, MB should have GODZILLA vs. MEGALON released, which will leave us with only TWO Godzilla films that haven't yet made it to DVD (which are GODZILLA 1985 and GODZILLA vs. BIOLLANTE for those keeping score).  These two have been plagued with "rights" issues, but is it possible that MB can get it worked out?
I know this wasn't so much of a "review" as an exclamation of joy, but as most retailers are NOT carrying DESTROY ALL MONSTERS (don't waste your time searching, either)---order it today!!! You will NOT be disappointed!


Theater Flyer for KING OF THE MONSTERS! (1956)

Here is a really cool item I bought last week on Ebay.  This is a small, folded flyer for an independent movie theater that was given out for advertising purposes--it had information about upcoming movies with dates.  I'm sure these were printed by the hundreds.  It measures 8 1/2" x 5 1/2", and is double sided. Here's the front side:
Nothing too interesting so far, but look what the entire inside is devoted to!
Oh yes, yes indeed--for four glorious days, you could see KING OF THE MONSTERS! So far, this is the only 1956 item I own for the first Godzilla film, but here's hoping I live long enough to score the poster one of these days!


STAR WORN 2 - Striking the Empire Back (Leaping Fox)

1980 Strikes Back!
This is the second installment of my celebrating the vintage era of Star Wars...and I've noticed something funny. The farther away you get from 1977, the fewer cheesy television appearances/variety-show satires/kids' show tie-ins/rip-off radio singles there were...almost as if, after EMPIRE, everything suddenly got serious.  Does this show a changing entertainment culture, perhaps? I don't know, but compare it to now, when Star Wars is just about a parody of itself....did I just type that? Oh dear, oh dear. We'd better just move on.
Anyway, this is almost one big sound-collage, because this time around, I interspersed the musical tracks with excerpts from the ESB read-along, as well as the "Story of ESB" album.  This way, it tells the story, albeit in sort of a fever-dream fashion...but, if you didn't know what the second film was about, would you be coming to this disc anyway to find out? Nah.
Basically, this disc is as if 1980 called and left you a voice mail.  It's all here:  the Muppet Show, the Great Space Coaster, Atari, some great vintage ads, our old friend Meco, and some other rarities as well. 
As always, I've boosted sound, done my usual round of de-clicking and de-noising, and tried to make everything sound as good as possible.  I leave just about nothing in the way of gaps, because my intention is to burn the disc with nothing (zero seconds) between tracks.  That gives it the non-stop, sound collage feel.
Let me illustrate with a story:

Imagine going back in time, and walking into your old living room. There, in front of you, is your 7-year-old self, drinking in Mark Hamill's visit to The Great Space Coaster.  You tap this child on the shoulder, who is startled to see you, but angrier to be interrupted. 
"I am you from the future!" you announce.  "Tell me, did you ever want the ability to record this bit of Star Wars history, to archive, and enjoy it again?"
"I wanted to see it now," says the child, "but you showed up."
"No, seriously!" you say.
The small you points to a behemoth Betamax unit, which is the size of a midget's coffin, atop your large, walnut-stained Zenith television. 
"Oh! You tried to use that, didn't you?"
The child nods.
"Didn't work, did it? Let me guess, by the time it warmed up, and you loaded the tape, which spun and whirled for 45 seconds, the part you wanted to record was over?"
The child nods again, tears forming in his eyes.
"Don't worry," you say.  "You will have the Internets!  You will have the ability to digitally capture anything, store it in a tiny device, manipulate it, put it on YouTube, and beam it to your smart phone!" 
The child frowns, unimpressed.
You can't resist reaching out and patting your 7-year-old self on the head.  However, as this blows a hole in the space-time-continuum, everything is wiped out of existence.

Um, I forget exactly what I was trying to illustrate there; it went off the rails.


The Movie Monster Game (Epyx, 1986)

I actually thought I owned, and knew about, every video game featuring Godzilla that was released in America....I was wrong! I do own them all, now!
Enter Epyx's THE MOVIE MONSTER GAME, made for the Commodore 64 back in 1986.  This game was actually licensed, and even though the title broadens the plot a bit, you can tell by the glorious painting on the cover that Godzilla is the star.

Although the King of the Monsters is the headliner here, you could also choose from parodies of other monster-archetypes that Epyx included, such as "The Glog," which is basically a big blob, but with a face. There's even a giant wasp, decades before Megaguirus, and a joke of the Ghostbusters marshmallow man...or maybe the Michelin tires man, now that I think about it.

I remember Commodore 64 as something I would play at a friend's house--he had the set-up where you would have to upload games from a cassette tape before you could play anything.  As a child, I remember thinking my Atari was much more convenient!
Still though, I'm going to track down an emulator so I can play this game. Ah, floppy disks...I remember you well, but I don't miss you that much!


Some of My Personal FAILs... (part two)

They simply don't make toys like they used to.  We have fancier, better sculpted action figures, but made of cheaper materials.  These three FAILs are my personal ones, and are items I have seen in stores just over the last several weeks! There is a huge headless problem going on!
I especially like the Star Wars one--it looks like Dooku cut his own head off with his lightsaber!


They've Done It To Me AGAIN!

One of the most anticipated items of the year in my house was this upcoming Hasbro "Classic Avengers" three-pack.  We had seen the pictures from previous Toy Fair, and were waiting until it finally hit stores.  I knew I would have to buy at least two to placate everyone.
When I saw them begin to hit Ebay, I knew it was time...imagine the thrill to find ONE left at the local Wal-Mart. Well, the thrill didn't last long!
If you will reference my recent FAIL post, you'll see the Captain America fiasco...the one with two identical hands.  Well, YOU explain the above photo to a very disappointed 7-year old Hulk Maniac!
Great Caesar's Ghost, Hasbro, is there no Quality Control anymore???? I remember a time when things were made in America!
Ironically, in both cases of same-handedness, it was impossible to see this until the product was opened! Captain America's shield was covering his wrong hand, and as you can see here, Hulk's left arm is covered up in the packaging:
Maybe this is how somebody at the factory gets their jollies....I don't know.  Now I'm just waiting to find another one. Sigh.


The 1969 TRUE Report on Flying Saucers!

I found this cool Flying Saucer magazine from 1969 (by Fawcett) on a recent thrift store trip.  Check out this interesting diagram, which I scanned below.  It is supposedly an Air Force chart for different shapes and styles of reportedly-viewed flying saucers! Cool.


Random Godzilla Goodness

A few random items today. Finishing up the lobby cards (for now), we have a Mexican lobby card for GHIDRA THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER:
Below is a photo, horrible as it is, of a poster from Turkey.  This is one of my favorites, and it's for INVASION OF ASTRO MONSTER (which is the only English on the poster). The King Ghidorah is truly stunning.
Below, the pressbook for YOG, MONSTER FROM SPACE (known internationally as SPACE AMOEBA). Pressbooks were sent to movie theaters to supply them with newspaper ads for reproduction, articles to run in their local papers, ideas for publicity campaigns, and also to show lobby cards and posters that were available for ordering. Often, they were cut to pieces, but luckily this one is intact! "SPEWED FROM INTERGALACTIC SPACE.....!"

Finally, another of my favorite pieces, a Godzilla (and building!) salt and pepper set.  Believe it or not, it's an officially licensed Toho product! Those crazy Japanese; I love them dearly!


Crusader Rabbit Frame-Tray Puzzle (1950's)

Now here's something you don't see every day...check out this awesome 1950's frame-tray puzzle that I found last weekend.  It's Crusader Rabbit, which, in case you don't know, was not only the first (arguably) animated series on television, but also the first Jay Ward series, and a precursor to Rocky and Bullwinkle! I knew as soon as I saw it that I had to buy it.


Kenner's 100 Vintage Star Wars Figures

Last weekend, I was re-organizing the top shelf of a display case I have, which contains a full set of vintage Kenner Star Wars action figures.  I was putting them on risers made of clear acrylic (which are actually spice racks/cabinet organizers, and are sold at Container Stores and other such places), and I was amazed how dust can get around the tiny crevices at the doors on both sides of the case. I stopped to take this picture before replacing them, and it got me thinking--I think there should be a list somewhere for folks who own complete sets.  Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there are thousands of folks who do, all over the world.  After all, they made zillions of Star Wars figures, but how many ended up lost, stolen, or sold? I'm proud of my set, and very blessed to say I haven't ever had to sell them, although I had a couple of near-disasters where I thought I'd have to! Anyway, if you are with me, and want to join the "Kenner 100 Club*," drop me a line.  I would think some photographic proof would be appropriate, so don't forget to send a picture.
*There's a bit of argument sometimes as to exactly how many there were, because of some variables, but I always get exactly 100 every time I've counted (and I'm not counting paint variations here). Some people don't count Blue Snaggletooth, some don't count Yak Face (because he wasn't technically sold in the USA), and I've even seen some disregard the Max Rebo Band 3-pack, but good grief, they are all Kenner Star Wars Action Figures.


Godzilla Lobby Cards (part three)

Here are a couple more American lobby cards from the greatest film ever made.


Mr. T and the Hang Glider Adventure (CBS Toys, 1984)

And then, there's this.
Yes, Mr. T had an animated series about this time, and yes, apparently that's what they were trying to capitalize on here...I can't decide if it's laughable or commendable that Mr. T actually doesn't speak in this "adventure," and the narrator just talks for him.  It's probably for the best, seeing as how their only option would've been to try to hire a sound-alike, and it would've been even more hilarious.
The moral here goes like this: "Kids, remember that stunt men who fly hang gliders in movies are specially trained to do this. Never, never simply grab a random hang glider you see and leap off of a cliff."
I don't remember a problem in the 80's with children wandering onto movie sets, but hey, there you go. Public service performed, and I pity the fool who tries it.
The real cringe-worthy item here is the B-side, where instead of an adventure, we are treated to a song.  Not just any song, mind you, but a sappy, over-dramatized, downright maudlin ode to imaginary friends.  I think.  Sounding like the theme to a late-70's ABC "After-School Special," or perhaps elevator music you  might have heard in Liberace's house, this one is sure to be heard once by you--just because you have to--and never, ever played again.


Godzilla Lobby Cards (part two)

More lobby cards for your viewing pleasure today:

Poor Angilas gets ambushed in this one from GIGANTIS, THE FIRE MONSTER (1959, U.S. version of GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN).
Here's an American lobby card from the either maligned-or-praised GODZILLA VS. THE SMOG MONSTER (Me, I LOVE it! In fact, this one is very high on my list, and in my top five favorite Godzilla movies!)

An exciting Mexican lobby card for PLANETARY TITANS, er, excuse me, GODZILLA VS. MEGALON.  By the way, that's another film that's both loved and hated (and also in the "love" category for me)! Mexicn lobby cards seem to very often have the picture-within-a-picture format.

And finally today, we have another American card, for KING KONG ESCAPES (1968). Nope, it's not a Godzilla movie, but it IS a Toho Classic, directed by Ishiro Honda, and includes a Gorosaurus death scene at Kong's hairy hands, as well as a Sea Serpent sometimes mistaken for Manda!


Empire Strikes Back Lobby Card (1980)

The Sphinx re-opens once again, this time I have an oddball entry for you. This is a lobby card for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, and it's a really cool semi-off-screen shot of the Rebel base hangar on Hoth. I love this picture--there are lots of neat details to see. It almost quallifies as a behind-the-scenes shot: is the person tending to the astromech droid, or setting up a prop for filming? There's a Treadwell droid and lots of other cool details to see as well. Also, there's an interesting bit in the fine print that says something along the lines of "This lobby card must be destroyed"! Indeed!


Godzilla Lobby Cards (part one)

And now we come to the Lobby Card area of the Collectibles Storage-Unit that I call a house. On this part of our tour, we will look at a few vintage Godzilla lobby cards. All of these are framed, which explains the matte around them. This first one is from my favorite film, DESTROY ALL MONSTERS. It's a non-movie paste-up that Toho was good at doing, and they got seven monsters AND a UFO in one scene!

Here's a Mexican lobby card for GHIDRA THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER. Mexican lobby cards are prized for their unique artwork and vibrant colors, as well as being primers in Spanish for the uninitiated. You can keep your Mona Lisas and your one-eared Van Goghs...this is one of the most beautiful works of art I've ever seen.

You may know it as MONSTER ZERO, but it's INVASION OF THE ASTRO MONSTER in some parts of the world. This Mexican lobby card is not only gorgeous, and not only includes the scene of kaiju being transported in UFO bubbles, but it contains the word "vomitando" which, in my childishness, cracks me up endlessly.