Houston Oilers at Boston Patriots - November 25, 1960

A Gallery of Vintage AFL Game Programs, Vol. 2

Houston Oilers at Boston Patriots - November 25, 1960

I’ve been doing a lot of housecleaning of my American Football League game program section, and I was inspired to showcase some more of my favorites from the collection. So here’s a half dozen more AFL covers that help make the case that we did lose something when they merged with the NFL. If you want to check out the first cover gallery, go here.

Houston Oilers at Boston Patriots - November 25, 1960

Houston Oilers at Boston Patriots – November 25, 1960

Houston Oilers vs. Boston Patriots - November 18, 1962

Boston Patriots at Houston Oilers – November 18, 1962

San Diego Chargers at New York Jets - October 3, 1964

San Diego Chargers at New York Jets – October 3, 1964

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Fletch (Gregory Mcdonald, 1974)

Book Report: Fletch (Gregory Mcdonald, 1974)

Fletch (Gregory Mcdonald, 1974)It’s taken me a long time to finally delve into Gregory Mcdonald’s Fletch book series, although I can’t give you a good reason why. I have loved the first movie for a few decades, so you’d think I would want to consume all I can about the character right from the source. But inertia is a powerful force, and so it is that I’ve finally started my journey this week.

So, the original Fletch from 1974. If you’re reading this I’m guessing you’ve seen the movie but not read the book, and want to know how closely the former follows the latter. So let’s go ahead and get the story differences out of the way now. Needless to say, spoiler alert.

  • Book Fletch is a blonde, not dark-haired like Chevy Chase.
  • The Geena Davis movie role (Larry) is named Clara Snow in the book, and Fletch has a rather hostile relationship with her. And in the book she is sleeping with Frank the editor. Speaking of which…
  • Frank in the book goes beyond slightly bumbling into outright incompetent and an alcoholic.
  • Gummy is a white teenager in the book.
  • In perhaps the biggest divergence, the Alan Stanwyk/drug-dealing police chief storylines are both present in the novel but are totally unrelated. Stanwyk still dies at the end, but only because he was mistaken for Fletch by the chief.
  • Fletch has mutliple ex-wives in the novel, but just one in the movie.
  • In the book, Stanwyk’s parents live in Pennsylvania, as does Sally Cavanaugh. Also, Sally has a young son from another man.
  • Stanwyk in the book is carrying on an affair with a former employee of the aviation company he runs.
  • In the book, Fletch is close to a female teenage runaway who is addicted to heroin. She dies and is buried at the beach.
  • Novel Fletch is a former Marine and was awarded the Bronze Star. Although nothing in the movie contradicts this outright, I assume it’s not the case.

OK, now that that’s out of the way, let’s rap. As you might be able to glean from some of the plot differences, Mcdonald’s novel is considerably darker than the movie. Fletch carries on a quasi-romantic relationship with a teenage runaway who is addicted to smack and has turned to prostitution for drug money. She dies at his place and he buries her in a sleeping bag on the beach.

But it’s not all dark. It wasn’t a huge stretch to turn this material into an admittedly dry screwball comedy, after all. Mcdonald’s I.M. Fletcher is still quick with a comeback, and the ending reveal of how he so effortlessly manipulated his bosses, his ex-wives, and their lawyers is both cruel and hilarious.

Really what separates book Fletch from movie Fletch is substance. Mcdonald’s character has depth, interesting backstory, and an apparent — if not skewed — sense of morality. Chase’s Fletch is mostly a vehicle to deliver deadpan jokes and comebacks (“It’s all ball bearings nowadays!”). The former feels like a character from the grittier early ’70s, while the latter is clearly a product of the glittery mid-’80s.

The point here is this — I highly recommend reading Fletch if you’re into investigative fiction. Just be aware that while the story does resemble that of the movie, the experience is totally different.

I suppose it’s unfair to spend so much time comparing an original novel to a Hollywood-ized movie treatment, but it’s just not possible for me to escape that here. I do plan on reading more books in the Fletch series — there are 11 in total — so I should be able to deal with them in more of a vacuum.

Old and new Arby's logos

Let’s Talk About the New Wendy’s and Arby’s Logos

This fall has seen a few major changes on the fast food logo front. Venerable chains Wendy’s and Arby’s both made significant changes to their branding for the first time in decades. While the basic visuals were kept intact, the looks have very much changed. Let’s look at the changes in alphabetical order.

Old and new Arby's logos

(image via StockLogos)

So what’s really changed here is the move from 2D to 3D, and yet another corporation moving to a sans serif typeface. Oh and then there’s the new apostrophe, which is supposed to look like something I guess.

It’s not an offensive change, but I don’t really think it’s an effective one either. I can understand with those who found the prior logo a little old-fashioned, but there’s the right way to modernize and the wrong way. First of all, can we stop with the sans serif already? You sell cheap roast beef sandwiches, there’s no way to make that look slick.

And again, what the hell is that apostrophe thing supposed to be?

I’m giving this change a C-.

Old and new Wendy's logos

(image via WISH-TV)

Well now this is interesting. Another old-fashioned, Western themes logo is jettisoned for something cleaner and just a bit blander. I’ll definitely miss the big block of red and white and the old font, but I’m a realist and I understand why it may not work for them in 2012. It was the most complex logo, relatively speaking, of the Big 3 burger chains. As for the new typeface, I’m going to need some more time to think about it before I render a judgment.

Now about Wendy. I guess she had to grow up some time, right? But now it looks a little creepy, like a 30-something that shows up to Burger-Con for some fast food cosplay. It’s a little off-putting to be honest.

I’ll give this a B- for now, but I reserve the right to adjust later. While I’m thinking about it I’ll re-watch the classic Wendy’s “Grill Skills” training video.

Christmas, Michigan

Ho Ho Ho! A Gallery of Vintage Santa & Christmas Postcards

For this batch of vintage postcards, I wanted to go for some mid-century Christmas kitsch rather than the really old stuff. Because that’s how I roll, as loyal readers must know by now.

Santa's Village (Sky Forest, CA, 1950)

Santa’s Village (Skyforest, CA, 1950)

(via Flickr user califboy101)

Santa's Village (Skyforest, CA, 1950)

Santa’s Village (Skyforest, CA, 1950)

Santa and His Reindeer - North Pole, New York

Santa and His Reindeer (North Pole, New York)

(via The Pie Shops)

Santaland (North Pole, Colorado, 1966)

Santaland (North Pole, Colorado, 1966)

(via Calsidyrose)

Christmas, Michigan

Christmas, Michigan

(via Neato Coolville)

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Santa Claus with swimmers on the beach at Christmas, Los Angeles, 1927

Vintage Photo Wednesday, Vol. 20: Santa and Swimmers on the Beach, Los Angeles 1927

Christmas photos aren’t quite the same without all the color and richness in them, but if we’re going to go vintage let’s go all the way!

Here’s an odd specimen from the Roaring ’20s. It features Santa Claus and a host of bathing suit-clad swimmers lying around a Christmas Tree on a Los Angeles beach. Click for a larger version.

Santa Claus with swimmers on the beach at Christmas, Los Angeles, 1927

I like this because it’s unlike just about every traditionally staged holiday photo I’ve seen. I like how Santa couldn’t even be bothered to wear pants but he still went with the coat and hat. Man Californians can be an odd bunch. (No offense.)

(Image courtesy The Smithsonian.)

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Fisher-Price’s TV Commercials Make Me Miss Being Childless

Being the parent of a toddler, I get to watch a wide range of children’s TV. Some of it is actually pretty good, and some of it stinks. And then of course, there are the commercials. Tons and tons of commercials. For the most part I’m able to tune them out, or even have some fun with the ads.

But not the latest batch of Fisher-Price spots. Let’s see if you can guess why, with this example.

Seems pretty harmless, right? The kid’s cute, and who doesn’t love toys? I mean, yeah, that song is a little annoying, what with the singer sounding like someone drugged her water before the recording session. But I guess she’s not that obnoxious.

Now try sitting through about 100 of these ads. That whiny, droning indie hipster “singing” transforms from slightly grating to completely rage-inducing. The only thing missing from this treacly garbage is the ever-present ukulele. If Zooey Deschanel had kids she’d be singing this, I just know it.

Gah! I need to watch something vintage to cleanse the bile out of my system. Ah, this vintage Little People ad should do the trick.

The Pac-Man Christmas Story (1983)

The Best Bizarre Christmas Album Covers Ever, Part 2

I had to take a year off after the first gallery of odd Christmas album covers, but I’m back with a strange vengeance. Here’s another set of Yuletide records sure to leave you saying, “Ho ho huh?”

The Border Brass - Tijuana Christmas
The Border Brass — Tijuana Christmas (date unknown)

So outrageous it can’t possibly be offensive, right? From the back cover: Take the festive spirit of the Christmas season, spice well with the merry mariachi sounds & you have a wassail bowl full of the happiest holiday music ever!

Christmas at Home with Nina and Frederik
Nina and Frederik — Christmas at Home with Nina and Frederik (1960)

From the looks of Frederik, there’s only one of four things he wants to do this Christmas.

1. Sex you up.
2. Chop you into little pieces.
3. Sex you up and then chop you into little pieces.
4. Chop you into little pieces and then sex you up.

The Pac-Man Christmas Story (1983)
The Pac-Man Christmas Story (1983)

And behold, Pac-Man was visited that night by the Ghost of Christmas Past. Pac-Man then consumed a power pellet and ate the ghost. Story over!

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Mickey Mouse Balloon at the 1934 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Vintage Photo Wednesday, Vol. 19: Mickey Mouse at the 1934 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Macy held its first Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, making it one of the oldest and longest-running parades around. It’s also been known in times past as the Macy’s Christmas Parade and later the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Christmas Parade, but the idea is the same. Balloons, balloons, and more balloons!

A big debut took place in 1934, when Mickey Mouse — who debuted in 1928 — appeared as a balloon for the first time. In a bit of cross-brand promotion, Mickey wore a Macy’s star on his chest. Here’s a photo from that 1934 parade, taken in the area of 46th Street and Broadway. Click for a larger version.

Mickey Mouse Balloon at the 1934 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Lots of fantastic details besides the balloon here. The timeless Coca-Cola sign is there of course. On the left is the Orpheum Dance Palace, which was a place where you could pay for dances with fine ladies. By the time it closed in 1964 it had become considerably less reputable. Next to that is a Mary Scott Rowland Beauty Salon.

Behind Mickey’s head and to the left is a huge sign for Camel cigarettes, a fun little juxtaposition if I do say so.

Now if my eyes and my Google-fu skills aren’t failing me, there’s a double feature playing at the Globe Theatre. There’s the W.C. Fields comedy Million Dollar Legs (1932), co-starring Jack Oakie and Andy Clyde, and Charlie Chan’s Greatest Case (1933), starring Warner Oland as the titular detective.

The Globe, which opened in 1910, was converted to a movie house in the ’30s. It was purchased, renovated, and re-opened in 1959 as the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.