Sunday, December 24, 2006

merry christmas to all...

...and to all a good night!
On behalf of everyone here at The Shelf, we wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas. We shall return a few days after Christmas! To you and yours-
Happy Holidays!

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

wish list...

I remember getting the Sears Wish Book sometime around Thanksgiving. Mom and Dad would hand it to myself and my siblings (two sisters and one Wolf, just like Rudyard Kipling) with paper and pens. Our mission was clear: go through the book and aid Santa in his quest to find out what we wanted for Christmas. We were duty bound to fulfill our mission, so we set off and tore through the pages. The gleam of newly minted toys and old favorites shone through the book like newly lit Christmas tree lights. Our pages were filled with items that we wanted, we hoped for, and that we secretly knew we probably wouldn't get, but still....

It was a form of Christmas magic. We then took our lists to Santa (or representative) at the mall. We waited in line while we looked at the "automatronic" Christmas scenes of Santa's workshop, the Elves Employee lounge and Reindeer stable scattered around the mall. Once we made it to the Big Guy we handed over our hard work and confided in Santa just how good we were that year. And by the way, there's a cookie and glass of milk in for you big guy. After we saw Santa we walked through the mall, looking at everything. We didn't always come here, so it was a treat. Especially when Dad would walk through Sears and buy us a few goodies at the Candy and Nuts counter. I always got the candy fruit slices. Let's just say that my brother and sisters and I were very lucky children indeed. Thanks Mom and Dad.

In a fit of nostalgia, I found scattered on this great modern day internet, various pictures of wishbook items that inevitably made it on the list. (Note: Although all of these items were scanned from a Sears Wish Book from late 70s- early 80s, they are not all from the one pictured above. I just like the cover.) Everything here (except one) actually made it under our tree from Santa himself. Santa was always good to us, and we were very fortunate children. Just looking at these pictures brings back a flood of memories and fuzzy and warm feelings. So, you have been warned. If you weren't a kid in the 70s or 80s you may not recognize many of these, but some are still around. So today, get a comfortable seat in the Wayback Machine, and check these things out. Sometimes I'll add comments, to some I won't, and please share your own comments and memories with us in the comments section.
For now, I present to you items from Christmas Wish List past:

Firehouse TreeTots Treehouse.

Winnie the Pooh Honey Tree.

My sisters had Strawberry Shortcake Everything. Even Blackberry Walnut. I think that was a character. Or, er...maybe not

They also had Cabbage Patch Dolls. My sister got the first year they came out and got her picture in the local paper. I remember these things caused more violence in the Toy Stores than Tickle Me Elmo ever did.

BIG TRAC! BIG TRAC! I loved Big Trac! You could program it to bring your dad a glass of milk, or so said the commercial. But what kid was gonna do that? You were sneaking cookies back into your room, easing stuff out of your sister's room, and other surreptitious activities.

Big Wheels

Atari. Now you can buy one of those "Plug and Play" Ataris with a gajillion preloaded games. Try and explain how that is cool to a kid raised on PS2 and Xbox. Once they get done laughing you can go back to the spare room and play it by yourself. Just don't mumble to yourself to much or your wife might take it away from you.

Awesome art stuff. Who didn't have a Light Brite or Etch-a-Sketch?

Battle Mountain. This thing was supposed to be based on Iwo Jima, but it always looked more like Normandy to me. All I know is that it was all kinds of awesome, and my friends and I played with it till it was Battle "Pile of Pieces"

This was the first calculator I ever owned. I learned how to spell H-E- double hockey sticks on it. "Little Professor" indeed.

Fisher Price Theater. I had the Mickey Mouse Ghosthunters cartridge. I never got tired of watching the part where Mickey, Goofy and Donald bust through the door of the Haunted House. I could rewind it and fast forward it, and it still was amazing that I could do that. Then we got a VCR. "Kid Magic" gone.

Erector Set. Luckily I had the red storage case as well. Although that didn't always prevent a stray nut or bolt finding its way into the vacuum.

Fisher Price was da' bomb.

Sesame Street Playset. I was big time into Sesame Street when I was a kid, and I had this Playset, which became a little world all its own, with no songs about numbers or letters. Just good times, man. Good times.

Even more Fisher Price goodness. Loved the parking garage playset.

Even though I hadn't seen the movie, I loved this game. Of course, after playing this game, I thought the movie was about a giant Shark that worked as a cranky garbage collector for a very opulent and wasteful underseas community.

I had all of these games at one point and time. And I loved them. I wish I still had them. I was the only kid my age on my street, so it was play with siblings or play against yourself. Sometimes I won, and sometimes, I won. Luckily Quiz Wiz and Merlin negated any of those problems. I just recently found my Quiz Wiz, minus any books or cartridges. I wonder if I could find any.... I wish I could find Stop Thief, also. I loved that game!

My brother was all about He-Man and Castle Grayskull. He must have had all of these guys. In fact, he buried one in the backyard and I believe he found it just a few years ago, still fairly intact. Skeletor's magic is fearsome indeed.

PlayMobil Western Set.

Lincoln Logs. Still a classic.

Playskool Holiday Inn. Now, we didn't have this, but my cousin out of town did. And everytime we went to his house it was like, "Hey guys, what's up? Where's the Holiday Inn set?" Harsh, I know. But when you are a kid, and business needs to be conducted, you gotta cut to the chase.

I had Q*bert. Very cool, and surprisingly difficult.

I think every house must have had a Tune Train...

... and a ViewMaster. How about the ViewMaster that projected onto the wall. All kinds of coolness.

Ah, Speak N' Spell. Its very name sends a counter message, but nonetheless, this was one of my favorite toys. And the great irony is, that I am still a terribul...terrabu...a really bad speller. I also found this one recently and popped in some fresh batteries. Surprise! Still works as if it was new. My youngest has gotten a kick out of it lately.

And here it is... the one that got away. This is the one Santa forgot. Bank Shot. It looked so awesome in the ads and in the store. I guess Santa thought that it would warp my mind. Maybe he saved me from a life of heartbreak playing pool in dives for my supper. Who knows? Either way, I'm not complaining, cause we were very lucky kids.

Well, it's time to come back to the present day with mega stores full of Bratz, Hootchie Barbie Dolls, video games, Tickle Me Elmos and DVDs. Hey, its not really all bad. Decades from now, someone will be telling their kids about how they wish they still had their old PSP. But, still...
Do you have any Christmas memories like these, did we miss any of your favorites? If so please share them with everyone in the comments section!
Coming up next, Christmas Candy Review Double Feature. Stay tuned.

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

You'll shoot your eye out kid!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

the wonderful world of roundup

This is it. The last roundup of the year. It's been a long one this year, with many great releases. Many great classics have come to DVD and we've been able to add to our library many enjoyable books and CDs. You may not have agreed with our choices for Top Shelf Pick of the Week, but then again, it was our pick! That's what you come for, and we deliver. Today's roundup will be a short one, for Christmas is around the corner and most of the best stuff is out. Only one last "biggie" release this week, and none next week, so we give you our picks today, and then next week a "best of" roundup looking at our picks for the best of the year. So stay tuned.
Without further adeiu, today's Top Shelf Pick of the Week!

Top Shelf Pick of the Week
Walt Disney Treasures

For those of you who aren't in the know, for the last few years Leonard Maltin has been working with Walt Disney Studios to create this wonderful DVD series. Each set is a two disc affair, showcasing some of what made Walt Disney great over the years. In the past there have been complete collections of animated shorts of several characters and series. And several sets go back to The Mickey Mouse Club or The Disney television shows to bring you stuff that you will not find elsewhere. Each year a wave of 3-4 titles appear, and this year we are favored with four sets:
The Complete Pluto Volume II
Your Host, Walt Disney: TV Memories
More Silly Symphonies, Volume II
The Mickey Mouse Club: The Hardy Boys

Please go visit Leonard Maltin's website and Ultimate Disney for in depth looks at each of these sets. Trust me, the are well worth the price. I will even go out on a limb and tell Santa that I would really like to find these in my stocking this year!

MGM Musicals:
Best Foot Forward
Presenting Lily Mars

These are two titles that were voted in this year's kinda "You pick what get's released" list with TCM and Amazon. Two charming musicals from MGM. Best Foot Forward stars Lucille Ball and features Shelf favorite, June Allyson in her first film appearance. Presenting Lily Mars stars Judy Garland as small town girl with Broadway ambition. Check 'em out.

Hey- I told you it would be short and sweet today. But don't worry, we're still bringing you more Christmas goodness up until the big day. Then after Christmas we'll take a look at the best year and preview a great TCM marathon coming up on New Year's Eve.

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

I'm not interested in pleasing the critics. I'll take my chances pleasing the audiences.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

weekly Christmas cartoon and tribute

In honor of Joe Barbera, we dedicate our weekly Christmas Cartoon post to him.
It's a Tom and Jerry favorite from Hanna and Barbera:
The Night Before Christmas (1941).

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.


thanks for the memories

One of my childhood friends has passed away. He was 95. How could that be? Well, any child that grew up from the 60s on thru the 90s that watched animation on television saw something that came from his animation studios. If you knew Fred, Wilma, Barney, Tom, Jerry, George, Jane, Yogi, Scooby, Shaggy...or any number of characters they created, you knew Joe Barbera. He and Bill Hanna were your friends. Perhaps I loved Disney and the boys of Termite Terrace and Tex a bit more, but that doesn't change the impact on me and love and admiration I have for Hanna-Barbera. Heck, just sheer exposure and quantity alone made them influential.
Tex Avery has been gone for a long time. Mel Blanc (sheer genius) has as well. Disney died when I was young. Chuck Jones passed away not too long ago. Bill Hanna passed away in 2001. Now Joe is gone. All childhood friends, all childhood heroes. All adult-hood heroes as well.
Now they are gone and I feel like part of my childhood has gone with him.
And yet... their legacy and work lives on. When my son "discovers" The Flinstones for the first time, my childhood is restored. When I watch Yogi Bear with my kids it all comes back.
Thanks Joe. For everything.

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.


Friday, December 15, 2006

livestock for the holidays

Wolf here, with another weekly Christmas cartoon. This week we're dipping back to the late seventies. Rankin/Bass pumped out some holiday animation in their day. Most were light and fun. This week's Christmas cartoon has those traits and something else. Like the Rankin/Bass production of Little Drummer Boy, today's presentation focuses on the real meaning of the Christmas holiday. Nestor the Long Eared Christmas Donkey was released in 1977 and narrated by the one and only Roger Miller. It starts off with the traditional story narrator setting the scene. In this instance the narration of Roger Miller comes in the form of Santa's donkey, Speiltoe. The story opens in a stable somewhere in the Roman Empire with Nestor and his mother. Nestor's owner gets angry with him and throws him out. As Nestor and his mother travel through a harsh winter storm, his mother sacrifices herself for her son. Nestor wanders aimlessly and is visited by an angel who informs him of a task he will fulfill in Bethlehem. The story rolls on and he discovers that his purpose is to sacrifice for someone else somewhat like his mother did for him. This special illustrates the birth of Christ and also touches on sacrifice, which would play a major role in the life of the Savior. It tells a wonderful story and is entertaining to watch. Roger Miller is one of country music's greatest voices and he displays that in a couple of musical numbers here. It was a real shame that this wasn't included in the Rankin/Bass box set of The Original Television Christmas Classics. Don't fret though. Nestor is available on a triple feature DVD that includes The Year Without a Santa Claus and Rudolph's Shiny New Year. In my opinion, any Rankin/Bass fan needs this disc as well as the box set. All in all, Nestor is a great holiday special with a great message and it deserves a spin in your DVD player. For those of you without the benefit of technology or your own copy of Nestor, we bring it to you here at the Shelf (Who takes care of ya, huh?). Here you are without commercial interruption: Nestor the Long Eared Christmas Donkey.

I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception.
UPDATE: I apologize as this was accidentaly posted before intended. Please scroll down and check out Loophole's excellent media round-up which had been posted only a short time before the mishap. Enjoy.

Please feel free to comment if the need strikes you.

A man was called by Joseph, Mary was his bride
She needed help to Bethlehem and Nestor's back to ride

Thursday, December 14, 2006

short round...up

Yes... the round up was MIA last week. We have been busy, like anyone else this time of year, and we've been working on bringing you special features and projects for the holidays this December. (Be sure to join us the rest of this week for another Christmas cartoon and Candy review!) In the midst of the hubbub, it seems like the weekly roundup became overlooked last week. So, today we bring you our picks for the last two weeks (and maybe some Christmas gift ideas?) in an abbreviated (short) roundup. What ever happened to Short Round anyway?

Top Shelf Pick of the week!
Forbidden Hollywood
By the way, in case you missed last weeks review, our Top Shelf Pick of the Week was Forbidden Hollywood, Vol. 1 from Warner Brothers and TCM Archives. Be sure to read the review to learn more.

More DVD stocking stuffers
The Frank Capra Collection
The Frank Capra Collection is a nice little set featuring some of his better films, most of which has been previously available on DVD. New to DVD is his film, American Madness, which stars Walter Houston as a bank president during the throws of the Depression. The other films included in the set are: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (a Shelf Favorite), It Happened One Night (a Shelf... aw, heck they all are), Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, and You Can't Take it With You. Also included are a 96 page movie scrapbook and the documentary, Frank Capra's American Dream, hosted by Ron Howard. Capra is an American legend and a national treasure.

Disney's True Life Adventures

This is another special DVD series, similar to the Walt Disney Treasures series. The Legacy Collection will be 2 disc sets each, and the first wave is the True Life Adventures sets. If you remember The Wonderful World of Disney, you remember these.

Collections: Charlie Chan Vol. 2 and Will Rogers, Vol. 2
More Charlie Chan featuring Walter Oland in the title role: Charlie Chan at the Circus, Charlie Chan at the Olympics, Charlie Chan at the Opera, and Charlie Chan at the Race Track plus bonus features. At the Opera is perhaps the best Charlie Chan film and co-stars Boris Karloff.
The Will Rogers Collection Vol.2 set features the iconic humorist in four films: Ambassador Bill, David Harum, Mr Skitch, and Too Busy to Work.

Dungeons and Dragons: The Complete Animated Series:
Eighties fanboys, unite! If you were watching Saturday morning cartoons in the mid-80s, then you require no introduction, nor explanation of this set. Here it is the complete show in one nice DVD set. This thing is stuffed with extras, including storyboards, a fanfilm, several episode commentaries featuring the voice cast and animators, 50 detailed profiles of various characters, creatures, and artifacts, and interviews with the cast. Thanks, Dungeon Master.

James Bond: Ultimate Editions, Vol. 3 and Vol. 4
This are the final two volumes in the U.E. sets. Films in Volume 3:
For Your Eyes Only, From Russia with Love
Live and Let Die, On Her Majesty's Secret Service,
and GoldenEye.
Films in Volume 4:
Dr. No, Moonraker, Octopussy, You Only Live Twice, and Tomorrow Never Dies.
Volumes 1 and 2 were released last month and we discussed the U.E. editions in a previous roundup. You can read about them here. Collect 'em all.

Rocky Anthology:
This set contains all of the Rockys, I through V. Rocky is an iconic film, and deservedly so, includes a two disc special edition (also available separately). Rocky II and III were great movies, which I really liked. I liked Rocky IV, but by this time the series had become almost tired. Drago was a good villian, but the film series should have perhaps finished on this good note. The less said about Rocky V, the better. Sly Stallone is an excellent (and Oscar-winning) film writer, and created two memorable film characters that he is bringing back to the screen soon: Rocky and Rambo. Early word is that Rocky Balboa (Rocky VI) is pretty good. We shall see. Definitely a great set for the sports and film fan alike.

SNL: the Complete First Season 1975-1976.
The names Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, and Gilda Radner are the stuff of comedy legend. This is the season and the cast that started it all. The skits were fresh and the humor was flying everywhere. It's no big secret that the show has seen better days, but you've got to give props to a show and the man behind it, Lorne Michaels, for surviving for 30 years. Guests from this season include Elliott Gould, Buck Henry, Candice Bergen, Lily Tomlin, Madeline Kahn and Peter Boyle, who passed away this week. All of the legendary skits, Samuari Deli, Mr. Bill, the original SNL News, The Land Shark, and apparences by Andy Kauffman. The musical guests were equally good and make for an eclectic mix. Much better than most of the musical guests featured of late (a section I usually skip, if I watch all, anymore). Pick it up to remind yourself that when it was good, it was good.

Dean Martin: Double Feature
This is a double feature set that includes Who Was That Lady? and How to Save a Marriage. These films fit in the kind of late 50s-early 60s war of the sexes comedy/romantic comedy mold so famously done by Doris Day and Rock Hudson. But hey, they star Dino! Gotta love Dino!

The Web:
Check out all the pretty lights!
Back in the day, we used to ride around with Mom and Pop in the car, checking out all the Christmas lights in the neighborhood. Well, in that spirit, I'd like for you to take a spin around the Shelf Community to see what our pals are doing for Christmas! Be sure to check 'em out.

Scott over at Cool Kooky Hip and Groovy is giving some great Christmas goodies this year with some Christmas-themed Detective OTR shows. Gotta love The Shadow!

Our friend Sallie at OTR Experience is really kicking Christmas up a notch. There is not only some great Christmas posts and goodies, but a slew of Christmas OTR. You'd think Santa came early. Be sure to check out one of my favorite posts, Christmas With Barbara Stanwyck.

Laura just recently posted some pictures and thoughts from a Christmas visit to a Disneyland all decked out in Holly over at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings . She also has an excellent look at the True-Life Adventures series.

Brainwerk is really pulling out the stops over at Check the Cool Wax. He's been putting up some great stuff daily, including some old Christmas albums.

Someone new to the Shelf Community, but not new to this sort of thing, Senses Working Overtime is one of my newest daily visits. Something great almost everyday, including some great Jack Benny Christmas episodes today and some Bob Hope Christmas episodes from last week. Also check some old Christmas comics, including this one featuring Rudolph.

Some "break from the holiday hub-bub" fun:
The crew over at Maggie's Farm are still doing their NE Yankee thing, including some great pictures like these cool ice sculptures and a nice one of an aurora.
Need some "break from Christmas" fun? Here's a funny Star Wars fanfilm over at Cinerati.

Don't forget our handy TCM for the Holidays guide for some Classic Christmas!

Well that's it for this week folks. Next week we'll return with a full-featured roundup, including some great new entries for animation fans in the Disney Treasures series.

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

At two o'clock this morning, Mr. Deeds held up traffic while he fed a bagful of doughnuts to a horse. When asked why he was doing it, he replied, 'I just wanted to see how many doughnuts this horse would eat before he asked for a cup of coffee.


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