Saturday, December 17, 2016

Addicted to Popeye - remembering the Adventurer's Inn Video Arcade!

We've mentioned Adventurer's Inn on this website many times... we've shared our memories, told stories of both wonders and horrors, but this video may be our most ambitious endeavor yet - highlighting the singular most addictive video game within the arcade which drew us in like zombies to an all-the-brains-you-can-eat buffet... the Popeye game!!

I took the song I had dug up a couple of years back - out of the archives, and finally got around to doing with it what I had wanted to do for a while now - and that was to add video and lyrics and share it with our legions of hungry fans... who are mostly just a handful of relatives and friends, and the occasional internet straggler who wandered into here by accident...

But anyway - here it is!! If you've ever been lucky enough to have known this almost magical, quite surreal place we remember as the Adventurer's Inn Video Arcade - you will get a particular kick out of this and perhaps even sympathize with our crippling Popeye addiction!! ENJOY!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2016


Wow, has it really been that long since I added some doodles to this site? According to this blog last doodle entry was March 2015 - okay, okay - so we are long overdue... to make up for it I dug deep into the archives. Mind you there's a lot of cobwebs in there and more creepy crawlies that I care to mention - so I hope you all appreciate this, folks...

Okay - picked at random, with no rhyme or reason... ENJOY!!

....and I think that'll hold you folks over for a while... until the next batch!! G'nite!!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

23 Cases of Walking Pneumonia Can't Be Wrong!

The New York World's Fair (1964/1965) Gathering
Joey Vento 

The World's Fairest FALL Gathering took place [October 9th] and we were treated to something very special! We entered and explored a place that the general public has not seen in decades....the old New York World's Fair Post Office 64/65!! This had been in the works for some time and Diane and i couldn't believe it actually happened. First, we want to thank EVERYONE who came out on a wonderfully blustery and rainy day. Your determination amazes me!

We made many new friends, and of course, our group has the most sweetest and loving people around! Thanks to Meira Berkower of the Parks Dept for assisting us and arranging the whole thing in such a fantastic manner! The guys inside the Post Office were just delighted that we were there, probably wondering why we would all stare intensely at a cinder block wall for 20 mins....they let us take our time and answered questions about the current use of the building, which is now the Queens Storehouse.

We saw remnants of the 2nd roller rink which operated here in the mid-70s when the activities at NYS Pavilion ended. The elusive "murals" were right above our heads when we walked in, even though we were told they were long since gone...Charlie Aybar had painted these when he worked here at the rink....pale yellow and beige paint still could be seen on the floor, remnants Charlie told me of the laminate used to coat the surface. This place was amazing!

The 9 foot high ramp for Fairgoers that suspended them to observe mail operations during 64/65 was long gone however, but the catwalks are still there, now loaded with boxes of paint, Park clothes and signage. During the early 70s, poisonous barrels of DDT were moved here from the NYS Pavilion, and remained for 2 years until they were buried elsewhere. The ceiling revealed red, white and blue rafters which might be Post Office colors, no one seems to know and the cinder block walls are painted "festive"....more of Charlie's work. It was one of the greatest days the group ever had!! I wish more of you could have seen this. Perhaps one day, we'll return.

We could not check out the Singer Bowl happenings because of the rain, but we'll be back for that. Thanks Alan Sherman for assisting us too in contacting "the right people"!! The day ended at Airline Diner with a great meal, great friends and thank you Dino for putting the World's Fairest Bronto Burger on the menu!! Ask for it by name!!!

Hope to see you all at Haunted Barn's Surprise All Hallows Eve Show October 22 and we'll see all of you once again at our spring gathering. You guys are simply the best!!!

Joey, Diane, and Jessica Rose.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Bil Baird's Marionettes

I know she's just a puppet but va-va-va-voom!! This wooden creation is that of the late great Bil Baird - American puppeteer of the mid to late 20th century. Not exactly a household name to most - but some may recall the famous marionette scene in the 1965 movie "The Sound Of Music" - with all that yodeling and the dancing goats - yes, those were Bil Baird puppets.

Anyway - just had a bit of a flashback today remembering how my sister-in-law Joan had brought me as a kid to an actual Bil Baird puppet show. It's a hazy memory - might of been a production of Pinocchio, I'm not sure - and it might've been held at the Bil Baird puppet theater that used to be at 59 Barrow Street in Greenwich Village - - and no, Bubbles (pictured above) wasn't there - but I do recall seeing many of Baird's marionettes after the show, up close and personal, upstairs above the stage - where I also got my first ever glimpse at many friends of Mr Baird's who were also puppeteers... most notably muppeteers from the Jim Henson group!

With some further digging I found out that Bil Baird (along with his wife Cora) lived in that very same six-story building I was in. It housed a theater which held 193 seats - offered children afternoon programs as well as evening revues for adults (probably featuring Bubbles!) and attracted international puppeteering talents - many of whom eventually ended up working with Jim Henson, who was also a huge Bil Baird fan and student! Later, Henson credited the inspiration for his Muppet Show program to Bil and Cora's 1950 TV show "Life With Snarky Parker".

Bil Baird's career spanned over 60 years, he put on puppet shows from New York to The Soviet Union and India. His Marionettes starred in the Ziegfeld Follies, broke box-office records on Broadway, was part of the 1964/65 World's Fair, and danced on early television shows including Ed Sullivan, Jack Paar and Sid Caesar. Scour through YouTube and you'll see he did hundreds of commercials and public service announcements - some of which feature one of his most popular puppet creations, Charlemagne The Lion.

After Bill passed away in 1987 at the age of 82 (his wife Cora had passed away in '67) over 600 of his handcrafted puppets were auctioned off just a few blocks away from where he lived at the Greenwich Auction Room on 13th Street. Some of Baird's more famous puppets were given to the Charles H MacNider Art Museum in Mason City, Iowa where Bill grew up.

An excerpt from Baird's obituary read: "He grew in recent years to look a bit like an elf himself, fey and silver-haired, with twinkling eyes and a little beard, as he labored away in his Barrow Street workshop. A visitor there in the early 1980’s said he alternately resembled a medieval wizard and one of Santa’s helpers in the midst of walls and ceilings dripping with puppets and marionettes."

Funny - it's the little details that sometimes stick out in your head... as I can recall those same walls and ceilings "dripping with puppets and marionettes"... in particular I can recall a donkey marionette - hanging within my reach, and yet I knew I'd better get permission before reaching out to touch it - which I was granted and I did. Very carefully I just sort of took my forefinger and pushed upward from underneath one of it's hoofs - and just as I expected it to, the leg bent amazingly lifelike - the donkey's hide had a surface of smooth, crushed velvet - it's eyes were saucer-like, with big goofy protruding teeth. I may have even let out an involuntary giggle. I had just finished watching a show where many of these creations were dancing, jumping, and creeping about - and now I was studying it's mechanics - I was fascinated.

Before I left the theater I took one last look around. High above my head was a line of can can dancers - the types you'd see at a burlesque show in France. Ingeniously Bil Baird had constructed them so that they would always kick up their legs in perfect unison - they were attached at the hips! The operator would pull one string and all their left legs would kick - they'd pull another and all the right would do the same. Little did I know then that I was looking at something that I'd probably never see the likes of again - a dwindling art form that I'd be looking back at with a bittersweet feeling of nostalgia forty-three years later...

Click here to enjoy some more of Bil Baird's imaginative marionette creations - most of which you will probably never see again in your lifetime!

UPDATE: October 9, 2016
As it turns out, it WAS a production of Pinocchio I saw - seeing this pic (below) reminds me of the very moment I first saw this scene - I was already fixated at that very mysterious chair opening behind Pinocchio's head, and rightfully so... as Pinocchio lied his nose grew more and more (obviously a pole being pushed through the back of his head) until it practically reached the first row in the audience! I must've been one smarmy 12 year old kid to have seen through that magical moment!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Glowing Pearl - The Radio Mix

Lately Dan's been adding echo to a lot of our songs and putting them up on Bandcamp... he calls these new versions "radio mixes" - for whatever that means - and personally I think he's gone off the deep end...

...however with THIS track, Glowing Pearl, it kind of works! Dan thought it added a Bowie-esque flavor to it, and it does kind of remind me a little bit of his "Space Oddity" - sort of, a little bit... maybe...

Anyhoo - here it is! Sit back, hit play and enjoy... wanna hear more of Dan's remixes just follow his links!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Monday, August 22, 2016

Jack Davis and his Mad Monster Party creations!

Just recently one of the greatest cartoonist/illustrators of all time and inspiration to aspiring cartoonists everywhere, MAD Magazine's Jack Davis, had passed away - he was 91. Jack Davis, to anyone who's met him, was the quintessential laid back Southern gentleman known in the field to be one of the fastest and most prolific illustrators of our time. Anyone who's ever picked up a MAD Magazine would recognize his works immediately - his signature style, often described as "controlled chaos" - multiple characters, each having their own distinctive look, spilling out onto the page - running, swinging, crashing - his drawings often conveyed action.

Just a quick Google Image search will show you how prolific the man was throughout his lifetime - and it's nothing short of amazing - but if you want to get a quick run-through of some of his best works at a glance you need not scour the web too deeply, just drop in at the blog website of another illustrator who I admire - the Vermeer of the Borscht Belt, the undisputed King of liver spots, Drew Friedman - who honored Mr Davis at an event which took place December 2011. Drew conducted a great interview with Davis as well as having compiled an accompanying slide show which spanned a long and prosperous career - surprising Davis with many pieces he had forgotten he did - which was perfectly understandable, as the man had just done so much... magazine illustrations, comic art, album covers, movie posters, animated commercials - he did art for EC Comics "Tales From The Crypt", TIME Magazine, and of course, the aforementioned MAD Magazine. 

An early notebook drawing
from a monster-obsessed young man.

But it was the monsters that really got my attention...

I had known for a long time that Jack Davis had designed all of those amazing creatures featured in the Rankin/Bass made-for-TV stop motion movie "Mad Monster Party" - and as a bright-eyed impressionable 6 year old those creatures took up permanent residence in my brain. Later as a young teen attending Junior High School it was not unusual for me to fill up my used composition notebooks with similar creatures everywhere there was a blank space. Among that days lessons I would add my own interpretation of the classic Universal monsters I would see played on TV - they weren't always direct interpretations of Davis' Mad Monster Party character designs, but the influences were certainly there I think.

Without even realizing it I got an even stronger dose of Davis influence when I picked up my first MAD Magazine - although it wasn't just Davis alone, I was similarly bit by the bug via others from the "usual gang of idiots" like Don Martin, Sergio Aragones and Mort Drucker - to name a few. But those monster designs he did - I'm always drawn back to those amazing monsters!

A bit later on, around 2003/04 - the influence continues...

Thanks Jack, for the MADness!!
Here's to you, Jack - here's my little testament to you and your influence! For this blog's readers I can't stress enough - especially if you're an artist yourself - go out and seek out all you can find on Jack Davis' illustrations! Study them - look at the expressions - the details - the craftsmanship! So much today is drawn digitally with tablets, but Davis was what you'd call "old school" - markers, pens, watercolor, pencils - and at the risk of sounding like some old crank lamenting about the past, I'll just say it anyway... they don't make 'em like this anymore...

Check out the quick handful of Jack Davis monster drawings I quickly grabbed from the net... it was drawings like these that got me hooked, and I hope they "bite" you too - enjoy!!

Jack's creatures...

Oh - and I should add - although totally unrelated to his monster work... while looking through Friedman's tribute I came across something I did not know about Davis - and that was that he had also designed The Rankin/Bass Jackson 5ive Saturday morning cartoon! Yep - you know the one... Check out the groovy character drawings!!

...and here they are as they were featured in TV Guide... all the likenesses are spot-on - there's not "one bad apple" in the bunch! Heh heh heh!!