Monday Artday: sun

here comes the sun

I started watching CBS Sunday Morning years ago, when Charles Kuralt was the host. The show, conceived as the television equivalent to the Sunday newspaper magazine, set an easy pace with gentle stories that were the perfect accompaniment to a bagel and a cup of coffee. Kuralt, the veteran newsman, delivered the introduction to each segment in a friendly manner as he stood on the sparse studio stage, graced only by a chair and the subtly smiling sun icon. His calm demeanor was so beloved that, after his retirement in 1994, fans were shocked by scandalous tales of the avuncular Kuralt’s double life as a philandering playboy with two separate, but simultaneous, families.

Kuralt’s successor was Charles Osgood, the smiling, genial news correspondent known for his daily broadcasts on the CBS Radio Network. Osgood brought a dignified “homey” air to the program, all while looking dapper in his neatly-tied trademark bowtie. For twenty-two years, the grandfatherly Osgood presided over a wide variety of stories presented in a heartwarming and soothing style. Preceding different holidays, he offered bits of self-penned whimsical poetry and even sang while accompanying himself on the grand piano. He was reminiscent of an old friend or family member who was always welcome in your home.

This past October, Osgood stepped down as host of CBS Sunday Morning, relinquishing his post to Jane Pauley. Pauley made appearances on CBS Sunday Morning in a correspondent capacity over the past few years, contributing feature stories and sometimes even serving as substitute host. Since Jane Pauley took over, I find myself losing interest in the show. I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly it is, but something is different. The individual segments are still compelling, the editorials are insightful and humorous when they need to be, but there’s just something off about the whole complexion of the show. It doesn’t seem as warm or inviting. It seems to have lost that nostalgic, fireside “homey” feeling, its unique personality, its throwback to days-gone-by. It has morphed into just another product of the CBS News department.

I will continue to watch… until something better comes along. Or until I lose interest completely.

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Monday Artday: frida kahlo

After a long, five year absence and an awkward “passing of the baton,” the Monday Artday blog has resurfaced like the Phoenix (the mythical bird, not the city in Arizona). I received an email from the original host and I have accepted the invitation to participate. So, here’s the deal: much like the venerable Illustration Friday, Monday Artday will present a topic each Monday and illustrations to fit the theme will be posted throughout the week until the next topic is offered. A weekly winner will be chosen and lavish cash prizes will be awarded. (I may have imagined that last part.)

So, here we go, my first entry for the eagerly anticipated return of Monday Artday…

I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.

The first inspirational suggestion is the work of Mexican surrealist Frida Kahlo. Since I haven’t picked up a paintbrush in years, I offer a tribute to the late painter in my artistic tool of choice – Photoshop.

Hopefully, Monday Artday will continue to grow, thrive and attract a new group of participants, as well as those who previously submitted their fine examples of creativity.

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DCS: lupita tovar

la voluntad del muerto

After several silent films in her native Mexico, Lupita Tovar signed with Universal Pictures. She starred in 1930’s La Voluntad del Muerto, a Spanish-language version of The Cat Creeps. The atmospheric horror film was shot at the same time as its English counterpart, using the same sets.

Luptia was then cast as “Eva” in a Spanish-language version of Universal’s Dracula. Playing the counterpart to Helen Chandler‘s “Mina,” this version was shot at night using the same sets as the version starring Bela Lugosi. After the success of both films, Lupita married the producer Paul Kohner. In 1936, Lupita gave birth to a daughter, Susan. Lupita retired from show business in 1945.

Daughter Susan, however, carried on the family tradition, starring in many films and television shows. In 1959, Susan was nominated for an Oscar for her role in the film Imitation of Life. She retired from acting to devote time to her family. Her sons, Lupita’s grandchildren, are producer-directors Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz, best known for the American Pie film series and the film About a Boy.

Lupita passed away in 2016, at the age of 106, one day after Susan Kohner’s 80th birthday.

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DCS: carrie fisher

you're our only hope

I met Carrie Fisher a few years ago at a horror and science-fiction convention in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. It’s a convention that I have attended on-and-off over the past fifteen years. While I am amused by the various costumed attendees and the unusual items of memorabilia on display, I mostly go to add to my ever-increasing collection of celebrity autographed photos. As in past years, I met up with my friend and fellow artist Matt and we scanned the list of celebrities at this semi-annual event. Most of the celebrities are gathered together, seated at long tables around the perimeter of one large room. Sometimes a celebrities of a “higher caliber” is sequestered in a private room, usually on an upper floor of the host hotel. This was the case for the special guest at this particular convention. I’m speaking, of course, about Carrie Fisher. Carrie was up one flight of stairs from the main lobby. In a room all to herself… and her fans.

Now, I am not presently, nor have I ever been a fan of the Star Wars film franchise that made Ms. Fisher a star. Nor am I a fan of The Blues Brothers or The ‘Burbs or The Man with One Red Shoe. I never saw When Harry Met Sally and Under The Rainbow was easily one of the worst movies ever made. But, I recognize Carrie Fisher’s impact and status in the entertainment industry. She is an accomplished author and stage actress, as well as a respected script doctor, where her uncredited efforts have salvaged the screenplays of such successful films as Outbreak, The Wedding Singer, Hook, Lethal Weapon 3 and Sister Act, among others.

Matt, nearly ten years my junior, is, however, a Star Wars fan. He wanted a photo of “Princess Leia” autographed by the iconic actress that played her. As a good friend, I went along for the ride but I would pass on an autograph for myself. We ascended the stairs and found the room with a computer-printed sign that read “CARRIE FISHER” taped to the opened door. We entered and joined the fairly lengthy queue line. We looked around the room as we waited for Matt’s turn. As veteran attendees, we know that celebrities travel with an entourage or “handlers” – assistants who unobtrusively accept the payment for the signed items and keep the lines orderly. At the front of the room was a long table covered with glossy photos featuring a fresh, young Carrie Fisher in a variety of poses from the various films in which she appeared. Most were from Star Wars, although there was the occasional, nondescript head shot mingled among the costumed ones. Seated behind the table were two young women and an older woman. I squinted and Matt craned his neck as we both tried to spot Ms. Fisher.

“I guess she’s on a break right now.” I finally said, after surveying the room and concluding that Carrie Fisher was no where to be seen.

However, the line was indeed moving, as though someone was signing pictures for satisfied fans. I looked again. The older woman was hunched over the table smiling and gabbing and scribbling on pictures with a big, black Sharpie.

“Oh my gosh!” I gasped and elbowed Matt, “That’s her! That old lady is Carrie Fisher!”

We were floored. She was totally unrecognizable as the one-time ruler of Alderaan, member of the Imperial Senate and agent of the Rebel Alliance. She was some crazy lady who was cackling hysterically as she tossed handfuls of glitter at the folks waiting for a signature. A small dog, snug in a paper bag, was seated on a chair to her immediate left.

Matt had a slightly different memory of that day, until I reminded him. Click to enlarge

When it was Matt’s turn, she asked him if he’d like some glitter (“space dust” she called it) and tossed a fistful in the air before receiving an answer. I stood a few steps back, but it didn’t stop her from offering me some glitter, as well… which I politely declined. She didn’t care that I did not want an autograph. She did smile at me, though, and signed a picture for Matt. Matt gave a few words of praise (along with sixty dollars) to the actress and she accepted them with sincere gratitude. We slowly exited the room, looking back to see Carrie throwing more glitter and laughing like a giddy eight year-old.

Carrie Fisher passed away today, never regaining consciousness after an earlier heart attack. She was 60 years old. I watched a few recent interviews with her and I realized that what I assumed were the actions of a crazy person were, in fact, just Carrie having a good time. I think she was well aware of what she was doing and well aware of her place in life. She was happy and living for the moment. She lived a life filled with ups and downs, pleasure and heartache, fame and obscurity, success and failure. And she was finally able to accept it all.

However, she had a lot more of life she wanted to accept.

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DCS: bernard fox

Calling Dr. Bombay! Calling Dr. Bombay!

Bernard Fox was one of those “Oh! That guy!” actors, despite having a career that spanned six decades. He made his acting debut at 18 months, launching a career that touched both television and films in both drama and comedy.

He was featured in numerous films, mostly broad comedies like Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, Yellowbeard and The Private Eyes. He played roles in two films about the sinking of the Titanic – 1958’s A Night to Remember as a crew member modeled after Frederick Fleet, Bernard uttered the iconic phrase “Iceberg! Right ahead!” Thirty-nine years later, he would star in James Cameron’s epic Titanic as “Archibald Gracie IV,” the the last survivor to leave the ship and the first adult survivor to die after rescue.

It was television that gave Bernard his best exposure and recognition. He embodied several recurring characters of popular sitcoms, including the befuddled, but well-meaning “Malcolm Meriweather” on three episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. He played the befuddled, but well-meaning “Colonel Crittendon” of the RAF on eight episodes of Hogan’s Heroes. He is best remembered as the jovial “Doctor Bombay,” the warlock physician on nearly two dozen Bewitched episodes. He actually reprised that role on the 1970s series Tabitha, an ill-fated sequel to Bewitched, as well as on the soap opera Passions. He even spoofed the role on an episode of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.

Bernard retired from acting in 2004, after an appearance in the independent superhero send-up Surge of Power: The Stuff of Heroes. He passed away in 2016 at the age of 89.

 

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DCS: gunpei yokoi

Game Boy

Upon his graduation from college, Gunpei Yokoi was hired as a maintenance man at the Nintendo Corporation. His job was to maintain the machinery on the assembly line that produced the company’s main product, Hanafuda cards, a deck of playing cards used for various games. In 1966, after a year in his position, Hiroshi Yamauchi, the president of Nintendo noticed Gunpei tinkering with an automated robot hand that he created in his spare time. Yamauchi loved the device and ordered Gunpei to develop it as a toy. Gunpei’s invention, dubbed the Ultra hand was a huge success for the Christmas rush. Gunpei pioneered Nintendo’s new toy division and created a series of popular products.

In 1974, Nintendo began making video games. On a business trip, Gunpei observed a bored traveler playing with a pocket calculator. Inspired, he developed a small watch that played video games. It became the Game & Watch and Nintendo marketed the piece to great success in 1980. The next year, Gunpei was appointed supervisor of the Donkey Kong video game development. Base on its success, he worked on the Mario Bros. game and introduced the “multi-player” concept.

Gunpei’s next project for Nintendo was Game Boy. It became an international success.

In 1985, Massachusetts-based Reflection Technology, Inc. presented its 3D video game technology to rival game developer Sega. Sega declined the offer, but Nintendo expressed interest. They put Gunpei in charge of development and production. The result of Gunpei’s efforts was Virtual Boy. Virtual Boy was rolled out in 1995 and discontinued less than six months later. High sales predictions were never met and consumer interest was nearly non-existent. Concern was expressed that extended use of Virtual Boy could lead to vision problems. Instead, Nintendo turned its focus to the N64 console in Virtual Boy’s wake. Gunpei was disappointed, but soldiered on. He developed the Game Boy Pocket, a smaller and lighter version of the original Game Boy. Then, after 31 years with Nintendo, Gunpei left to pursue his own company.

In 1997, just a year after leaving Nintendo, Gunpei was involved in a traffic accident. He rear-ended a truck with his car. When he and the other driver got out of their vehicles to assess the damage, Gunpei was struck and killed by two passing cars. He was 56 years old.

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