The Indispensable Comic Strip Reprint Library

As I get older, the more interested I am in comic strips instead of comic books. They’re more entertaining. There are fewer to collect. They’re less dominated by fanboy culture.

I’ve begun to collect comic strips at the perfect time. We’ve entered a golden age of comic strip reprints — there’s an embarrassment of riches. In fact, there are so many books coming out right now, that I’ve made the time to create a checklist. To the best of my knowledge, these are the in-print reprint projects, as well as some ancillary material.

The idea for this came from a discussion in the Marvel Masterworks forum. This research is merely the groundwork for what I hope will eventually be a subsection at Vintage Pop. I know this isn’t of interest to most people, but I want to get this posted someplace so that I have it as reference.

First, I’ll list all of the books that are scheduled to come out in the next few months. Then I’ll list books by strip name. I’ve placed a happy star next to particular favorites. (Happy stars reflect my personal taste, which probably is the opposite of yours.)

Upcoming Releases
Walt and Skeezix, book three (1925-1926) by Frank King (26 Jun 2007)
The Early Years of Mutt & Jeff by Bud Fisher (11 July 2007)
The Comics: An Illustrated History of Comic Strip Art by Jerry Robinson (08 August 2007)
Krazy & Ignatz: The Kat Who Walked in Beauty by George Herriman (15 Aug 2007) — daily strips
Sundays with Walt and Skeezix by Frank King, edited by Peter Maresca (15 August 2007)

The Complete Terry and the Pirates, volume one: 1934-1936 by Milt Caniff (25 Sep 2007)
The Complete Peanuts 1965-1966 by Charles Schulz (15 October 2007)
Pogo: The Complete Daily & Sunday Comic Strips, volume one: “Into the Wild Blue Yonder” by Walt Kelly (19 Oct 2007)
The Complete Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy, volume three by Chester Gould (25 Oct 2007)
Popeye, volume two: “Well Blow Me Down” by E.C. Segar (19 Nov 2007)
Growingold with B.C.: A Celebration of Johnny Hart by Johnny Hart (25 November 2007)
Krazy and Ignatz 1941-1942: “A Ragout of Raspberries” by George Herriman (19 December 2007)
Hank Ketcham’s Complete Dennis the Menace 1957-1958 by Hank Ketcham (19 December 2007)
The Complete Peanuts 1967-1968 by Charles Schulz (19 May 2008)
Little Nemo: So Many Splendid Sundays, volume two by Winsor McCay, edited by Peter Maresca (Summer 2008)
The Complete Peanuts 1969-1970 by Charles Schulz (19 October 2008)

Dennis the Menace
Hank Ketcham’s Complete Dennis the Menace 1951-1952 by Hank Ketcham
Hank Ketcham’s Complete Dennis the Menace 1953-1954 by Hank Ketcham
Hank Ketcham’s Complete Dennis the Menace 1955-1956 by Hank Ketcham
Hank Ketcham’s Complete Dennis the Menace 1957-1958 by Hank Ketcham (19 December 2007)

Dick Tracy
The Complete Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy, volume one: 1931-1933 by Chester Gould
The Complete Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy, volume two: 1933-1935 by Chester Gould
The Complete Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy, volume three: 1935-1936 by Chester Gould (25 Oct 2007)
DVD: Dick Tracy movie serial (1937)

Flash Gordon
Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon, volume one (1934-1935) by Alex Raymond
Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon, volume two (1935-1936) by Alex Raymond
Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon, volume three (1936-1938) by Alex Raymond
Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon, volume four (1938-1940) by Alex Raymond
Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon, volume five (1940-1941) by Alex Raymond
Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon, volume six (1941-1943) by Alex Raymond
Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon, volume seven (1943-1945) by Alex Raymond
Mac Raboy’s Flash Gordon, volume one (1948-1953) by Mac Raboy
Mac Raboy’s Flash Gordon, volume two (1953-1958) by Mac Raboy
Mac Raboy’s Flash Gordon, volume three (1958-1962) by Mac Raboy
Mac Raboy’s Flash Gordon, volume four (1962-1967) by Mac Raboy

Gasoline Alley
Walt and Skeezix, book one (1921-1922) by Frank King
Walt and Skeezix, book two (1923-1924) by Frank King
Walt and Skeezix, book three (1925-1926) by Frank King (26 Jun 2007)
Sundays with Walt and Skeezix by Frank King, edited by Peter Maresca (15 August 2007)

Krazy Kat
Krazy & Ignatz: The Kat Who Walked in Beauty by George Herriman (15 Aug 2007) — daily strips
Krazy & Ignatz 1925-1926: “There is a Heppy Land Furfur A-Waay” by George Herriman
Krazy & Ignatz 1927-1928: “Love Letters in Ancient Brick” by George Herriman
Krazy & Ignatz 1929-1930: “A Mice, a Brick, a Lovely Night” by George Herriman
Krazy & Ignatz 1931-1932: “A Kat Alilt with Song” by George Herriman
Krazy & Ignatz 1933-1934: “Necromancy by the Blue Bean Bush” by George Herriman
Krazy & Ignatz 1935-1936: “A Wild Warmth of Chromatic Gravy” by George Herriman
Krazy & Ignatz 1937-1938: “Shifting Sands Dusts its Cheeks in Powdered Beauty” by George Herriman
Krazy & Ignatz 1939-1940: “A Brick Stuffed with Moom-Bins” by George Herriman
Krazy & Ignatz 1941-1942: “A Ragout of Raspberries” by George Herriman (19 Dec 2007)

Little Nemo
Little Nemo 1905-1914 by Winsor McCay
Little Nemo in Slumberland: So Many Splendid Sundays by Winsor McCay, edited by Peter Maresca — the gold standard for comic strip reprints
Little Nemo: So Many Splendid Sundays, volume two by Winsor McCay, edited by Peter Maresca (Summer 2008)
Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend by Winsor McCay
DVD: Winsor McCay – The Master Edition (1911) — a compilation of McCay’s animated pieces, including “Gertie the Dinosaur”
Winsor McCay: His Life and Art by John Canemaker

Mary Perkins On Stage
Mary Perkins On Stage, volume one by Leonard Starr
Mary Perkins On Stage, volume two by Leonard Starr

Mutt & Jeff
The Early Years of Mutt & Jeff by Bud Fisher (11 July 2007)

The Complete Peanuts 1950-1952 by Charles Schulz
The Complete Peanuts 1953-1954 by Charles Schulz
The Complete Peanuts 1955-1956 by Charles Schulz
The Complete Peanuts 1957-1958 by Charles Schulz
The Complete Peanuts 1959-1960 by Charles Schulz
The Complete Peanuts 1961-1962 by Charles Schulz
The Complete Peanuts 1963-1964 by Charles Schulz
The Complete Peanuts 1965-1966 by Charles Schulz (15 October 2007)
The Complete Peanuts 1967-1968 by Charles Schulz (19 May 2008)
The Complete Peanuts 1969-1970 by Charles Schulz (19 October 2008)

Pogo: The Complete Daily & Sunday Comic Strips, volume one: “Into the Wild Blue Yonder” by Walt Kelly (19 Oct 2007)

Popeye, volume one: “I Yam What I Yam” by E.C. Segar
Popeye, volume two: “Well Blow Me Down” by E.C. Segar (19 Nov 2007)
Popeye: An Illustrated Cultural History by Fred M. Grandinetti

Steve Canyon
Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon 1947 by Milt Caniff
Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon 1948 by Milt Caniff
Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon 1949 by Milt Caniff
Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon 1950 by Milt Caniff
Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon 1951 by Milt Caniff
Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon 1952 by Milt Caniff
Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon 1953 by Milt Caniff
Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon 1954 by Milt Caniff

Terry and the Pirates
The Complete Terry and the Pirates, volume one: 1934-1936 by Milt Caniff (25 Sep 2007)

Modern Classics and Other Oddities
Growingold with B.C.: A Celebration of Johnny Hart by Johnny Hart (25 November 2007)
The Best of Beetle Bailey by Mort Walker
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
The Complete Far Side 1980-1994 by Gary Larson
The Best of Hi and Lois by Mort Walker
Hi and Lois: Sunday Best by Mort Walker
Oh Skin-Nay! The Days of Real Sport by Wilbur Nesbit and Calre Briggs

Anthologies and Reference
100 Years of Comic Strips edited by Bill Blackbeard
The Adventurous Decade: Comic Strips in the Thirties by Ron Goulart
America’s Great Comic-Strip Artists: From the Yellow Kid to Peanuts by Richard Marschall
Art Out of Time: Unknown Comics Visionaries 1900-1969 by Dan Nadel
Children of the Yellow Kid: The Evolution of the American Comic Strip
The Comics: An Illustrated History of Comic Strip Art by Jerry Robinson (08 August 2007)
The Comics: Before 1945 by Brian Walker
The Comics: Since 1945 by Brian Walker
Great Comics Syndicated by the NY Daily News and Chicago Tribune by Herb Galewitz
Masters of American Comics
Reading the Funnies: Looking at Great Cartoonists Throughout the First Half of the 20th Century by Donald Phelps
The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics edited by Bill Blackbeard
The World on Sunday: Graphic Art in Joseph Pulitzer’s Newspaper (1898-1911) by Nicholson Baker

Comics Revue reprints 64 pages of classic comics every month
Big Fun reprints classic American newspaper strips in a deluxe format (but on an irregular schedule)

Publishers, etc.
Checker Book Publishing Group
Classic Comics Press
Drawn and Quarterly
Fantagraphics Books
IDW Publishing
Ken Pierce Books
Pacific Comics Club
SPEC Productions
Sunday Press Books

Weblogs and web sites
Don Markstein’s Toonopedia
Last of the Spinner Rack Junkies
Vintage Pop will feature a lot of comic strip material when I launch it. Some of that material can be still be found at Four Color Comics

I could actually prolong this by adding movie serials to the list, and by adding Little Lulu. (Lulu was not a comic strip, but contains similar elements.)

We’re Not Interested

The phone is the bane of my existence. It rings all day long, especially at work. And since I’m the one charged with answering the phone, I have to stop whatever it is I’m doing to answer the damn thing.

Yes, I know I get paid for this, but it’s still frustrating. I’m thinking. My mind is at work. When the phone rings, it breaks my concentration. Sometimes, when we’re busy, the phone rings ten or fifteen times an hour. When this happens, I begin to curse.

Even at home, the phone bugs me. Send me e-mail! E-mail does not interrupt my work flow. I can answer it when I have the time. The phone requires my immediate attention. (Obviously, I don’t mind calls for certain things, but come on: a lot of things are better suited to e-mail.)

All of this is preface to another story.

J.D. and the Yellow Pages
Once upon a time, I had a bad experience with a company that publishes a Portland-area telephone directory. Before this time, I had basically been polite and patient with telemarketers who called about their various phone books. (And who knew there were so many? It’s crazy!) Since then, I’m an asshole, and I don’t care.

Just yesterday morning I received the third call in as many days from somebody with a thick Indian accent offering to update our free listing in the U.S. Business Yellow Pages. The first two times I politely asked to be removed from the list. Yesterday I was not so polite. I’m not proud of my behavior, but hey — I’m only human.

Anyhow: on Monday, Nick received a call late in the afternoon. It was a fellow named Raymond. He’s taking care of our account this year at the one telephone directory in which we choose to advertise. (There’s a new account rep every year, it seems.) Raymond was all chummy with Nick, telling him how much he looked forward to meeting all of us. Nick hates stuff like this. He told Raymond to call me Tuesday morning, but then he couldn’t get him off the phone. (Nick is not assertive.)

On Tuesday, Raymond called me. He told me that he had a lovely chat with Nick on Monday, and that he was pleased to be talking to me. He asked if he could come out to go over our yearly contract and to tell us about the company’s internet directory. “We’re not interested in the internet directory,” I told him.

“Oh, I think you’ll be interested in this, J.D.” he said. Whatever. I gave him directions to find the place. “Oh, I’ll bet it’s gorgeous out there,” he said. “I’ve never been out there. I look forward to seeing the country. And I look forward to meeting you.” Whatever.

Yesterday Raymond called just before our schedule meeting. “J.D., I’m running behind,” he told me. I said that was fine. I’d be here. Hoping the telephone would let me write in peace. “Great,” he said. “I really look forward to meeting you.”

“Man,” I said after he hung up. “That man is obsequious.”

“What does obsequious mean?” asked Jeff.

“Brown-noser,” I said. “Ass-kisser. He’s full of false flattery.”

Nick agreed. Then he had an idea. “Uh, I’m going to town,” he said. “I’ll, uh, run in the deposit. Bye.” He had no desire to be in on the meeting. Taking a hint, Jeff grabbed the loppers and went outside to prune trees. (Trees that have never been pruned before in nearly two decades.)

Raymond arrived. “Wow,” he said. “This is gorgeous country, J.D.. What an amazing drive. It must be special to work out here.” I gritted my teeth, first because of his painful saccharine-sweetness, and then because the grip of his handshake was hard enough to crack walnuts. We sat down.

“J.D.,” he said, “I want to show you our internet directory.”

“We’re not interested,” I said.

“I hear you,” he said, “but I think you should look at the changes we’ve made, J.D. We’ve had 60% growth in the past year.”

“That’s nice,” I said. “But we’re not interested. Nobody I know even uses an online telephone directory. They all use Google.” Even as I said that, I knew I’d make a mistake. I’d given him a concrete rejection, given him something he could reply to.


Raymond held up a finger. “Hold on. Let me show you something, J.D.” He leafed through a binder, hunting for a page he wanted to share. He couldn’t find it. He leafed some more. He leafed some more, and then turned the page a quarter of the way toward me, as if letting me look (though I could not see a thing). “Our customers have shown tremendous satisfaction with our online directory. It lets you target locally.” Blah blah blah.

Raymond talked for five minutes about his stupid internet directory. I just let him go. I sat there and nodded, but I was really thinking about my blogs, and about what I would write in the afternoon, if the phones ever stopped ringing. Blah blah blah.

“Now doesn’t that sound great, J.D.?” Raymond said, wrapping up the spiel.

“Look,” I said. “I told you before: we’re just not interested. We have no interest whatsoever.”

He was about to reply to this when there was a knock at the back door. It was the Schwan’s man. Actually, it was the substitute Schwan’s man. He’s a bozo, and I know it, but I was in a passive-aggressive mood. I played happy and cheery J.D. “Hi, how’s it going?” I said. “We don’t need anything this time. I’m sorry.”

The Schwan’s man said okay, and then he told me all about the awesome grilled cheese sandwiches they’ve begun to sell. “They’re great,” he said. “I love them. I ate a whole box by myself the other day.” (And he looked like it.) “If I could, I’d sit around and eat these cheese sandwiches and play video games.” He paused. “But my wife wouldn’t like that.” I laughed heartily, but not because I thought it was funny. I was just being mean to Raymond.

As I returned to the office, the telephone rang. It was a customer with whom I could joke and chat, so I played happy cheery J.D. again. But when I sat down to talk with Raymond, I was dour, serious J.D. He seemed to get the point.

“Well,” he said. “I guess we should sign the contract.”

“Yes, that’s a good idea,” I said.

I signed and initialed a couple pages. When we got to the last page, he said, “Now you’re sure you don’t want to consider the internet directory?” I had to look at his face to tell if he was being serious. He was.

“No,” I said. “We’re not interested.”

We finished the deal, and I led him to the door. “Thank you so much, J.D., it was a pleasure to meet you. It was great to get out here and see this beautiful land. You sure have a great business. Take care!”

I sat at my desk to process some quotes. I had been working for about five minutes, and was getting up to use the fax machine, when Raymond appeared at the door.

“Pardon me, J.D.,” he said, “But I thought I should let you know that you can change your mind at any time about the internet directory. It’s not like the print directory where there’s a deadline. We can insert your listing into the online directory any time.”

“Okay,” I said. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

He left. I finished my quotes and wheeled over to write up a weblog entry. I had been writing for twenty minutes when all of a sudden Raymond was by my side. “What the hell,” I thought to myself. What planet was this guy from?

“Pardon me, J.D. But I forgot to give you these flyers. This flyer describes your contract. It’s the same one you get every year. And this flyer describes the internet program. It’ll give you a better idea of what it can do for you and your business.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. “Look,” I said. “We’re not interested. That’s it. We’re just not interested.”

“Oh, I understand,” he said, though he clearly did not.

About five minutes later, Nick returned from town. “Is he gone yet?” I whispered to him.

“Who?” he asked.

“The phone book guy. He keeps coming back. He won’t take no for an answer.”

Nick laughed.

I told Kris this story this morning as we were getting ready for work. “Who’s going to take care of crap like that if you leave?” she asked.

I thought for a moment. “Nobody. Custom Box will just have a listing in the online yellow pages.”

Nick just came to interrupt my writing to read the following quote, which is from his favorite film of all time, As Good as it Gets. (Which apparently is not very.) Simon has just knocked on the door of Melvin, a writer who does not like to be interrupted.

Melvin Udall: Never, never, interrupt me, okay? Not if there’s a fire, not even if you hear the sound of a thud from my home and one week later there’s a smell coming from there that can only be a decaying human body and you have to hold a hanky to your face because the stench is so thick that you think you’re going to faint. Even then, don’t come knocking. Or, if it’s election night, and you’re excited and you wanna celebrate because some fudgepacker that you date has been elected the first queer president of the United States and he’s going to have you down to Camp David, and you want someone to share the moment with. Even then, don’t knock. Not on this door. Not for ANY reason. Do you get me, sweetheart?
Simon Bishop: It’s not a subtle point that you’re making.

I’m under the impression that Nick believes I’m like Melvin lately. He may have a point.

Smart Kids

Here’s a post I missed last week at Metafilter. Thanks to the magic of Matt’s new podcast, though, I found this gem today, long after the discussion had died. The post is awesome. It’s so awesome that I’m going to leave it up here for a couple of days until all of you — especially you parents — have had a chance to read the linked articles. Here’s the entire post:

“You’re really smart!”
Psychologist Carol Dweck says that praising a child for being smart only teaches the kid to avoid any effort that might fail. "When we praise children for their intelligence, we tell them that this is the name of the game: Look smart, don’t risk making mistakes." Malcolm Gladwell chimes in with his thoughts on the importance of being a smart kid, "What a gifted child is, in many ways, is a gifted learner. And what a gifted adult is, is a gifted doer. And those are quite separate domains of achievement."
posted by revgeorge (218 comments total)

The 218 comments are filled with great anecdotes about smart kids who learned not to try for fear of failure. I was one of those. I am one of those. I was always told I was smart (and I appreciate the love my parents showed by praising me in such a way), but these affirmations had the opposite of the desired effect. They made me less confident in my abilities, not more.

Here are a few of the interesting Metafilter comments:

I’ve chewed on this question pretty much my whole life. School came pretty easy to me and I was always told I was smart. That never really jived with how I felt — I assumed I was lucky because I was curious and tested well. I felt (and still feel, to some extent) that I was gonna be “found out” — that I really didn’t know shit from Shinola. I think my lazy and procrastinating streaks are probably a result.

There are a couple of points the articles don’t make (but, on preview, I see that other posters have made). One is that heaps of praise can lead to a pernicious imposter syndrome — if I try and fail, then everyone will know that I’ve been faking all along. If I appear to be simply apathetic, well, I’ll be judged for that, but no one will think I’ve been faking intelligence, at least. Another is that if all my achievements are chalked up to some sort of innate, in-born talent, then I’m not really getting any credit for my hard work, am I? I see that with professional athletes, as well–Michael Jordan was certainly born with a predilection for being very good at basketball, but he also worked very hard at it. Calling his accomplishments the result of pure talent reduces their value.

Danish novelist Peter Hoeg, in his horrifying autobiographical novel Borderliners, talks about the pitfalls of praise; his idea is that value judgments are artifacts of the adult world, that during childhood curiosity rules. There are so new things to explore and make and want to do, and these experiences and ideas live outside the adult world of good or bad, right or wrong. So, according to Hoeg, even praise forces a child to see, during the initial period of childhood discovery, in adult terms of right or wrong, and unfairly forces a child into a mindset and a track based on an adult’s judgment.

I was a smart kid– too smart for my own good, in many ways– and almost always got good grades. But one thing that I distinctly remember is how much I loathed being praised for my effort. I hated getting a report card in grade school and seeing an “A” for results and another “A” for effort. It always felt like cheating, somehow. If I was going to be praised, I felt, it should be on my intrinsic merits, not just because I had “worked hard,” whatever that meant. After all, anyone can apply time and concentration to a task. I would know I had achieved true academic success, I believed, when I received an “A” for results and a failing grade for effort. I never did.

If I run a half-marathon and do well despite lack of proper training, just through determination, I feel like I cheated. Sure, I made it, but I didn’t train. I didn’t become better. I just made myself do it. Similarly, I remember a certain philsophy paper that I pulled out of my ass and scored an A. It didn’t deserve an A. I certainly didn’t put A-level effort into it. Did I keep the paper? No, it got tossed in the trash. Did getting that A build self-esteem? Far from it. Pushing yourself builds self-esteem. Achievement, especially for those for whom it comes easily, is worth little, whether or not you do better than others.

The older I’ve gotten, the less likely I am to try something new and my cognitive experience is that my enjoyment of an activity is linked to my success as perceived and reported back by others, or winning, or perfect performance. I am incapable of internal, inherent standards and rely on external cues from others to judge my personal satisfaction with an experience.

(That last sentence is so true it hurts.)

The kids who do well in later life are the ones who are given the emotional and psychological mechanisms to cope with set backs and failure and who are taught how to see (simple simple at first) things through. Kids have to be taught that their failures are as important, if not more so than their victories, but in this culture if you don’t get out there early and distinguish yourself you’re thought of as “not good enough”.

And then there’s the absolutely amazing comment from “robocop is bleeding”: the story of Dr. Addler and The Wheel.

I’ve read the two main articles now, and have read about a quarter of the comments. Whenever I get free time, I go back and read a few more. This is fascinating stuff, and I think it goes far in explaining some of the challenges I’m facing lately.

This “smart kid” syndrome is the reason I get stage-fright regarding radio interviews or even posting to my blogs. This is the reason I’m always asking for constructive feedback. When people only tell me how much they love something I do, it has the opposite of the intended effect. Instead of being proud of what I’ve accomplished, it gives me a reputation I feel I have to maintain. It makes me afraid to stumble.

By the way, my “take away” from all this is:

  • Parents, praise your children, but don’t give them general praise like, “You’re so smart” or “You’re helpful”. Instead, give them specific praise: “Thank you for helping with the dishes”, “You did a great job on that essay”, “That pass you made was excellent — it helped Chris score a goal”.
  • Hard work and intelligence are both important, and both should be emphasized. But it’s the work that is most important to praise.
  • Failure, while it probably shouldn’t be encouraged, should be shown to have positive aspects. We learn from our mistakes. We cannot grow without failure. Failure is only bad if we let it defeat us. Don’t stigmatize failure, but show how it can be used for gain.
  • Don’t be afraid to criticize. Criticism, when it is constructive, helps a person grow.
  • It’s much kinder, in the long run, to mold a child’s behavior than it is to mold an adult’s behavior. By the time your kid is 38, it’s too late to change things that have fucked him up. The time to take care of that stuff is when she’s 8. But that can be very, very hard to do.

There’s a lot of information in these articles. A good book could almost be drawn from them. But it’s well worth reading.

Music for Nine-Year-Olds

Naomi is a writer. From time-to-time she sends out stories of her family life via e-mail. (She really needs a blog, but she won’t listen to reason.) Last weekend she sent out a bit entitled “Sk8er Boi on God’s Planet”, which describes the challenges of guiding her oldest daughter, Lydia, safely into the world of rock music. Naomi writes:

So suddenly my 9-year old daughter has become fascinated by the rock music scene. I had anticipated this, of course, but I was hoping that our Machiavellian plot of making her an early reader would serve to make her a late bloomer in the realm of teenager music. No such luck; she is apparently multifariously precocious.

But despite my misgivings, I was (at first) greatly comforted by the fact that her first love is Avril Lavigne and not Britany Spears. For those who don’t know, Avril is on the dark-eye-liner, black-clothes-wearing, pouty-lipped, politically cynical angry-at-the-entire-world end of rock music women, balanced on the other end by Brit’s cheerleader act. (no prejudices here, folks; as a Christian I love everybody equally. Really.)

As a fellow who loves music, I’m very excited that a kid I know has finally reached the age to be interested in rock. I don’t know Lydia well, but Naomi’s message still prompted me to spend two hours on Sunday (two hours that would have been better spent writing) gathering together songs that I hoped a nine-year-old would like (and that a nine-year-old’s mother might approve of). I was careful to choose songs that sounded “hip” without being risque.

But when Kris found out my plan she said, “What are you doing? You can’t make a mix for a nine-year-old girl. She’ll think this is her parents’ music. She’ll think this is lame.” I was mortified to realize that she was right. Still, I remember that I liked some of my parents’ music when I was a kid. And they listened to some of the stuff I liked. Maybe there’s hope.

I wrote to Naomi asking her advice. She replied:

I checked with Lydia, and she’d love to get your “Lydia mix.” She is not nearly as snobbish as she could be, partly because of her terrible isolation from anything pop culture. I kid you not, only a year ago she came home from school and asked “Mom, what’s Pokemon?” The scariest thing is not that she didn’t know Pokemon (scary enough) but that she still sees me as a source of accurate information about kid culture. That one will change soon enough!

So, in order to vet this mix for Naomi and for those of you hip to nine-year-old culture, here’s the pool of songs that I’ve managed to collect. This is slightly longer than a CD, so a couple of songs have to go. Which ones? Are there others that might be included? For each song I’ve listed the artist, provided a link to the lyrics, and posted a YouTube video. (I hope the latter doesn’t kill things for people.)

Lydia’s Mix

Kelly Clarkson – Since U Been Gone

Gnarls Barkley – Smiley Faces

Hilary Duff – Come Clean

Wilson Phillips – Hold On

Kylie Minogue – I Believe in You

Vanessa Carlton – A Thousand Miles

Green Day – I Fought the Law

Go-Go’s – We Got the Beat

Girls Aloud – Sound of the Underground

Rick Springfield – I’ve Done Everything For You

Sarah Washington – I Will Always Love You

This isn’t the version I’m putting on the CD

Natalie Merchant – Wonder

Diana Anaid – Last Thing

Jewel – Intuition

t.A.T.u. – How Soon is Now?

Avril Lavigne – Take Me Away

Us3 – Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)

The Decemberists – The Chimbley Sweep

This is not the official video, obviously, because there isn’t one.

Apples in Stereo – Signal in the Sky

The Might Be Giants – Why Does the Sun Shine?

R.E.M. – It’s the End of the World as We Know It

A*Teens – Mamma Mia (ABBA cover in Spanish)

Actually, I may send Lydia a copy of this CD. I love it.

  • Dandy Warhols – Bohemian Like You
  • The Postal Service – Such Great Heights

    Pat Benatar – We Belong

    Sixpence None the Richer – Kiss Me

    Basically, I’m looking for fun songs that I can imagine a young girl dancing around to. I tried to picture a young Kris Gates bellering along to these songs. If I could picture it, they stayed. (Of course, I had to draw the line at Helen Reddy, which I know Kris used to sing along with.) I really wanted to put on some other songs, like The Black-Eyed Peas’ Hey Mama, but I recognize they’re inappropriate. Please, readers, I beg of you: help me create a CD that a nine-year-old girl would love. (I hope to be able to use this for other nine-year-olds as they crop up during the next few years.)

    Tales of the Chicken, Video Edition

    Our feral chicken cracks me up. Every morning when I go out to feed it, it comes flapping down from the cherry tree. Somehow it’s finding its way off the ground at night to roost. When I call chick chick chick it launches itself into the air and sort of half-plummets to the ground.

    I borrowed Jenn’s video camera for the past couple weeks in the hope that I could get some typical Chicken behavior on film. Chicken didn’t co-operate. Instead of charging at me when I call it, as it usually does, it hung back and watched me taping it. It’s just coincidence, I know, but it was almost as if the bird were camera shy.

    Still, I pieced together 2-1/2 minutes of Chicken footage for you fans:

    You’ll notice that Princess has become a little ornery. She used to ignore Chicken, and Chicken ignored her. But now Princess thinks Chicken is a fun toy. Chicken longs for the days when she could eat peacefully with the kittens.

    (Have I mentioned Princess before? She appeared last fall, and has made this place her home.)

    Cats on Film

    I’m so hip. I just uploaded a video to YouTube. You can’t stand me, I’m so cool.

    I borrowed a videocamera from Jenn and Jeremy the other day. I’m trying to get some good video of the feral chicken at the office. (I’m constantly amazed at how many Chicken fans there are among my readership.) It’s more difficult than I had anticipated.

    Frustrated, I brought the videocamera home today. The sun was shining and the cats were antsy, so I let them outside and then filmed them as they wandered around.

    Pretty boring, but not if you’re a cat. As you can tell, Simon is especially fond of outside. It’s his favorite.

    (My YouTube profile, in case you’re interested.)

    Recipes from Rosings Park

    Kris and I are lucky to have friends who love food, friends who love to cook and share their cooking with others. I’ve often said it would be fun to create a friend cookbook — to collect favorite recipes from everyone we know, and to publish them in one of those cheap spiral-bound fundraiser books.

    Kris and I have already begun the process, to some extent, though not in a truly systematized fashion. Whenever we taste something we love — at book group, at a dinner party, and Monday night football gatherings — we ask for the recipe. We’ve been adding these recipes to MacGourmet, an inexpensive recipe database.

    I was afraid that MacGourmet would be pointless, but we actually like it. It’s easier than collating piles of recipe cards, or dogearing pages in cookbooks. “The best thing is that you can search,” Kris says. “You can say, ‘I have zucchini. What can I make with zucchini?’ If you have enough recipes, you can get some good answers.” I like that MacGourmet lets you tag recipes with keywords, add photos, and note the source.

    I also like that MacGourmet lets you publish your recipes to the web. If you’ve ever followed the “eat” link in the sidebar, you’ve discovered Recipes from Rosings Park, which is our ongoing collection of favorite dishes from friends (as collected in MacGourmet). We recently updated the list. Here are some of my favorites:

    There are some notable dishes missing here. Paul’s posole, for example, and anything from Kara or Kim. Also, there’s nothing from Craig! Actually, we still have tons more recipes to enter. “I haven’t even put in a quarter of my recipes, so it’s kind of silly to post this now,” Kris told me when she saw what I was writing. I’ll just have to post again later when we have everything in the computer.

    The Carrion Drive

    Near home it’s squirrels. Even on the rough-pocketed side streets, it’s squirrels, and often with the crows pecking at the corpse. “I have a theory,” I tell Kris. “I think the crows raise the squirrels. They nurture them. They bring them to fatness. Then, when they’re good and ready, they herd the squirrels into traffic. Squirrel is a delicacy for crows. That’s my theory.”

    Sometimes it’s cats, too, but not very often. Cats are generally smarter than that. They don’t freeze in the face of oncoming traffic the way a squirrel does. Cats get it when they’re making some mad dash across traffic. They’re too cocky about their speed and agility, and they don’t quite make it.

    There aren’t many cats around our place, but once you get toward Canby, it’s the cats for sure. Just on the bluff, near the fruit stand and the trailer park, that’s where you start to see them. And then down toward the Foursquare Church, and certainly after driving through town, heading out into the country again. The cats hit me in the gut. “That was somebody’s pet,” I think. “That was Toto or Simon or Nemo.”

    But once you get through town, it’s more than the cats. Mostly it’s skunks and coons, depending on the time of year. It used to be the possums, but frankly I don’t see them much anymore. But I see the skunks and the coons. The coons make me sad — though not like the cats — because I think of them as smart. It makes me sadder still when it’s not one coon, but two, as it sometimes is. Sometimes it’s one coon in the middle of the road and one coon at the side. “Husband and wife?” I wonder. “Do coons mate for life?”

    Today, at the bottom of Good’s Bridge, it was a deer, lumped in the middle of the road. I came upon it fast in the melting light, and at first I thought it was a body. A human body. But it was a deer, a small doe, slumped and bleeding from the head. It was in the center of the road, which is a good thing, because otherwise maybe it would have been human bodies, too, and twisted metal and shattered glass.

    It was a deer at almost the precise spot where a week ago it had been a horse. I didn’t know it was a horse. I drove past in the morning, and it was a mound on the side of the road, like a pile of barkdust maybe, or a pile of dirt. It was covered in some crazy-quilt blanket, and I thought, “That’s odd.” But I didn’t know it was a horse until Nick got to work and said, “Did you see the horse?” “What horse?” I said. “The one at the bottom of Good’s Bridge,” he said, and then I knew it wasn’t a pile of barkdust or a pile of dirt.

    But you know what it never is? It’s never dogs. I don’t get that. It must be dogs sometimes — I hit a dog once. But why isn’t it ever dogs on the road? Do people pull them off? Maybe they’re just not let loose outside like they used to be.

    About a month ago, I drove from Custom Box to Sandy, by way of Estacada. Turning off the highway, heading up the hill toward Sandy, traffic had slowed to a crawl. “What gives?” I wondered, but then I saw: up ahead two dogs — a silky Golden Retriever and some little mixed mutt — were strolling down the middle of the road, following the striped line. It was like they were out for a pleasant walk after lunch. The Golden Retriever walked evenly, following the striped line; the little mixed mutt orbited around it. Traffic in my lane crawled along behind. Oncoming traffic came barreling around a blind corner to halt abruptly and then creep past the pair. That’s how it went: a car came barreling around the blind corner, and I held my breath because I was sure one of the dogs would get it, but the car would brake hard, stop, and then creep past. The dogs didn’t care. Traffic followed the dogs for a quarter mile before the pair found a side street they preferred and ambled off to find whatever it is they were looking for.

    I wonder why it’s never dogs.

    Twenty mp3s of Great Songs from 1901-1920

    New visitors may also enjoy Vintage Film Sampler: What to Watch When You Don’t Know What You Like (an introduction to the films of the 1940s and 1950s), Graphic Novels for People Who Hate Comics and Sesame Street Video Clips.

    It’s a shame most people are unfamiliar with American Popular Music. It’s great fun. It occurred to me today that a lot of this music is in the Public Domain — I could rip mp3s from my collection and post them. So I have. All mp3s in this entry are in the Public Domain — download and share!

    The best way to introduce this music is probably to offer the entire 1991 RCA collection called Nipper’s Greatest Hits: 1901-1920. This disc is long out-of-print. It sells for $190 on Amazon. One copy recently sold for $60 on eBay. In the early days of eBay, I lost a bidding war for this disc. I contacted the winning bidder, and she graciously made me a copy of the disc and the insert.

    According to the liner notes:

    The selections of Nipper’s Greatest Hits: 1901-1920, are redolent of those days when performers played and sang into a simple acoustical horn whose vibrations were sensitized onto the wax of a revolving disc. Today’s digital restoration of the early shellac records not only eliminates unwanted ticks, pops, and surface noise; it also amplifies the sound signal, so that in this compilation one hears those musical pioneers in their best guise.

    Here are all twenty songs from the set, displayed in chronological order, not track order. The song title links to an mp3; the performer name links to additonal information (generally from wikipedia).

    This isn’t a comprehensive list of popular music of the era. Two of the biggest songs — “After the Ball” and “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” — aren’t even included. However, it’s a good representation music that was popular one hundred years ago.

    Many of these songs sound quaint to our ears. Recording technology was primitive before 1925, and the best way to get a good recording was to be loud. Opera singers and brass bands made great records.

    If you like this music — and I doubt that many of you will — check out modern interpretations of the songs. I’m particularly fond of After the Ball, which I own on vinyl. Joan Morris does a good job with piano accompaniment (though her style is operatic).

    For more information on early American popular music, explore:

    I’d love to start a weblog devoted to this stuff, but with this blog, my personal finance blog, and my comics blog (not to mention some secret stuff), I’m positively blogged out.

    Please please please forward other sites that feature early American popular music.

    An Introduction to Classic Films

    text by Kris, links by J.D.

    [Note: Kris’ original title was Vintage Film Sampler: What to Watch When You Don’t Know What You Like, but it’s just too damned long!]

    A friend of ours recently joined Netflix and asked me to make some recommendations. Although Jd & I do our fair share of adding recent releases to our Queue, I think Netflix’s true strengths shine when it comes to viewing both TV series and Classic Films.

    I am a sucker for the old black-and-whites. Especially Warner Bros. Especially from the late thirties and forties. Especially Bette Davis.

    Turner Classic Movies was my first introduction to many of these vintage films, but even they don’t own the rights to everything. Netflix has a very respectable inventory of the most-acclaimed Classic Films, but they are missing some of the more obscure from my favorite actors.

    If you’re new to the genre, I’ve compiled a list to get you started. Once you’ve sampled from the list, it’s easy to branch out according to your taste. Pick a favorite actress (Katharine Hepburn, for example), Director (George Cukor, anyone?), year or two (hard to beat 1939-1942 in my book), romantic duo (ie. Bogart & Bacall) or style (screwball comedy, film noir).

    The list is chronological. Remember that most actors worked on contract in those days, meaning they churned out the movies, so there are bound to be some losers among their credited titles. As the list moves from thirties to fifties, color arrives and the films lose their cinematic innocence. Movies of the fifties and sixties are bleaker, angrier, more “real” than their theatrical predecessors. (By the seventies, I think they’re mostly vapid or in need of therapy.)

    I’ve organized most of the list according to leading actress for two reasons: the movies I love almost always have a strong female character, and the biggest names (and salaries) during this era were the leading ladies (partly due to the influence of WWII in the mid-forties). Davis and Hepburn get the most due to the incredible length and breadth of their careers. I hope my plot summaries below aren’t as bad as the Sci-Fi blurbs, but face it, vintage films require you to accept implausibility.

    I hope you find something you like!

    Claudette ColbertIt Happened One Night (1934)
    I’m not normally a screwball comedy fan, but the chemistry between Colbert and Clark Gable is undeniable. Directed by Frank Capra (It’s a Wonderful Life), this early film set the stage for the next fifteen (or fifty) years of romantic comedies.

    Katharine HepburnStage Door (1937)
    Before Hepburn was a big star, her trademark cheekbones were part of this ensemble cast that also features Ginger Rogers, Eve Arden (the principal in Grease), Lucille Ball, and Ann Miller. In the role of a snooty aspiring actress, Hepburn’s so convincingly bad you’ll forget she’s acting.

    Bette DavisJezebel (1938)
    Warner Bros.’ pre-emptive answer to Gone with the Wind. Davis is a rebellious Southern Belle opposite Henry Fonda. Great supporting cast. Includes dueling and the obligatory happy slaves singing gospel songs and an obscenely melodramatic ending. No one but Davis could have carried off this plot.

    Norma ShearerThe Women (1939)
    One of the most popular stars in her day, Shearer’s name hasn’t survived among the pantheon of movie greats. But this is a great film. The all-woman cast includes Joan Fontaine, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, and Marjorie Main. It deftly showcases some of the fads and trends of the day, and has both snappy and heartfelt dialogue. There’s a decent remake as a musical with June Allyson (The Opposite Sex, 1956). If you like Shearer, she played a sympathetic Marie Antoinette opposite Tyrone Power (va-va-voom!) the previous year. [J.D.’s note: there’s also a new version in production. I like this film.]

    Katharine HepburnThe Philadelphia Story (1940)
    C’mon — you’ve seen this one, right? An uber-classic. Fabulous trio of Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart; it’s hard to know which guy to root for. All the minor roles excellent, too. (Make sure you don’t get the watery musical remake with Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby from 1956 — called High Societyugh!)

    Joan FontaineRebecca (1940)
    You’ll win a prize if you can figure out Fontaine’s character’s name in this classic psychodrama by Hitchcock (hint: it’s not Rebecca). Also a wonderful leading role spin by Laurence Olivier, if you want to see what your grandmothers were swooning over. Stellar supporting cast. If you like the movie, the book is even better.

    Ingrid BergmanGaslight (1940)
    The vulnerable Bergman is lovely in her distress in this film. Although the plot is a bit thin, both she and Charles Boyer, her (mis)leading man, shine. Too bad Joseph Cotton is so stiff here.

    Bette DavisAll This, and Heaven Too (1940)
    Davis is a governess who accidentally sparks the French Revolution when she becomes embroiled in a battle of wills between a Duke and Duchess. Features some nice child actresses (including June Lockhart of later Leave it to Beaver fame). NOT available on Netflix! Let’s start a letter-writing campaign. [J.D.: I find this film tedious. It’s not available on Netflix because it’s not out on DVD.]

    Orson WellesCitizen Kane (1941)
    No true fan of cinema should skip this movie. All of Welles’ films are scary in their single-minded, experimental genius; this is the least flawed among them. Pay attention to the groundbreaking camera work by Gregg Toland. And oh yeah, Welles is the lead actor, writer, director and producer of this amazing film. He was 26 at the time. [J.D.: Kane has some great moments and should not be missed, but the film d-r-a-g-s in its last act. Welles was 26! 26! It boggles the mind.)

    Greer GarsonMrs. Miniver (1942)
    Director William Wyler made this movie about a British family in WWII to encourage the US to join the war against Germany. And it worked! FDR used part of the film’s dialogue to persuade the Americans that the fight was worthy. It’s cheesy patriotism but the casting is perfect and there’s a twist in the end. It will make you remember that there were wars for which we sacrificed more than just our tax dollars. Greer Garson also played a charming Elizabeth Bennet (opposite Laurence Olivier as Darcy) from 1940, and if you like movies about famous chemists, she’s a wonderful Madame Curie in 1943. (Unfortunately — neither available from Netflix, although Random Harvest, a decent alternative, is.)

    Bette DavisNow, Voyager (1942)
    Ah, unrequited love. Davis’ transformation from over-mothered spinster to confident (and secretly fallen) woman is beautiful. Also a great scene where she gets to tell off her controlling mother. You may have never seen the leading man, Paul Henreid, in anything else, but he will capture your heart here. Be forewarned: very cheesy ending.

    Ingrid BergmanNotorious (1946)
    What could be finer than Bergman and Cary Grant teaming up to fight the Nazis! Hitchcock balances the romance, character development and suspense in one of his best. Great camera work. Kudos to villain Claude Rains, too; at times, he steals the show and you feel sorry for him even though he is a Nazi!

    Lauren Bacall/Humphrey BogartThe Big Sleep (1946)
    Ah, I long for the days when a leading man could be ridiculous-looking, and be named Humphrey, but still make the ladies pant. Don’t allow yourself to be confused by the plot (or lack thereof) in this one. Just enjoy the ride. None of the Bogart/Bacall movies have serious credentials; they existed merely as excuses to get this team together on the screen.

    Irene Dunne/William PowellLife with Father (1947)
    Adapted from what was (at the time) the longest-running non-musical Broadway play of all time, a very cheesy family comedy set in 1883 New York. Good clean fun that will probably bore the pants off any young movie-viewer today. Lots of complaints on the Netflix site about the DVD quality on this and a few other older films. Sounds as though some film restoration is in order so we don’t lose classics like this one. [J.D.: This film is goofy fun. Some of the dialogue is as hilarious as you’ll ever find, especially when Mother explains her shopping rationale. And who can forget Father’s constant refrain of “I am not going to be bap-uh-tized.”]

    Katharine HepburnAdam’s Rib (1949)
    Had to include at least one Hepburn pairing with Spencer Tracy. Their off-screen romance permeates their acting. In this film they are husband-and-wife lawyers on opposite sides of a case in which a woman tried to kill her husband for infidelity. A wonderful examination of gender issues is woven through the slapstick. (My fave Spencer/Hepburn, Without Love, isn’t available from Netflix.)

    Bette DavisAll About Eve (1950)
    You owe it to yourself to see this film. Top-notch acting from the entire cast (including Marilyn Monroe in a minor role). Deliciously wicked. Has the famous “bumpy night” line. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Rent it. By now, the young attractive actress Bette Davis has morphed into the weird-looking later Bette Davis, but her acting became even more powerful as she aged. [J.D.: Despite some slowness in the middle, this is a great film. Excellent writing, and for a long time the film with the most Academy Award nominations.]

    Grace Kelly/Jimmy StewartRear Window (1954)
    Edge-of-your-seat Hitchcock. This is such a classic that people refer to it in casual conversation; time to see the movie if you’re missing the allusions. Kelly’s cool beauty is a perfect foil to the clautrophobic suspense of voyeur Stewart trapped by his window with a pair of binoculars. [J.D.: I find this film dull; I much prefer Vertigo, which Kris hates.]

    Henry FondaTwelve Angry Men (1957)
    See, I can like a movie with all men! One of the best of all time. Pure psychological drama; you’ll be sweating along in the jury room and turning on the fan. Watch this one when you can savor the exquisite pacing and characterizations. No distractions, please. [J.D.: Kris first saw this film a year ago. She was raving about it as soon as the credits rolled.]

    Elizabeth Taylor/Paul NewmanCat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
    Wow! This adaptation of Tennessee Williams‘ drama sizzles with sexual frustration. If you think Liz is only famous for her myriad marriages, friendship with Michael Jackson and malodorous perfumes, you owe it to her legacy to see this film. She didn’t get many meaty roles (typecast for her looks rather than her acting abilities) but she’s an absolute carnivore in this one. Me-ow!

    Marilyn MonroeSome Like it Hot (1959)
    This movie crackles with inside jokes and witty repartee. Monroe is mostly eye-candy, but charmingly so. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon provide most of the laughs, but the real star of this film is the screenplay by Billy Wilder. Even better the second time around. Although this movie is from the late-fifties, it could have been written in 1938, perhaps because Wilder had been working in films since 1929. [The funniest movie ever made — even the AFI thinks so. Even better the twentieth time around. One of my top three films of all time.]

    Other notes:
    A Lion in Winter (1968) — Too late to be in my fave era, but worth seeing if only for Katharine Hepburn‘s luminescent turn long after most of her contemporaries were long gone.

    Musicals — that’s a whole separate entry!

    Notable absences:
    Barbara Stanwyck: some love her, but I think she always seems like she has gas
    Joan Crawford: ugh — too butch for me
    Myrna Loy: I love Myrna Loy, but don’t really like the films she’s in. If you must try her, your best bet is the Thin Man series with William Powell.
    Gone With The Wind: I just assume everyone’s seen this one. If not, take the day off work, rent the full version, and enjoy the War Between the States.

    [Research for this entry was aided by the TLA Video & DVD Guide, a very handy reference.]