Monday, 25 April 2011

Betty Boop

The world's first solo virtual / cartoon star.
Betty Boop, thanks to her copyright expiring and entering the public domain seems to be everywhere these days.
But did you know the little lady who was modeled on It Girl Clara Bow was probably the worlds first virtual solo star.
Though she was modeled on Clara Bow, Betty Boop’s first incarnation was a French Poodle. Her floppy ears were changed to loopy earrings and the Betty we know today was born. Clara Bow

Thanks to Max Fleischer’s Talkatoons and Screensongs Betty became famous singing popular songs of the day helping to promote the sales of sheet music
Betty Boop became the star of the Talkartoons by 1932, and was given her own series that same year, beginning with Stopping the Show. From that point on, she was crowned "The Queen of the Animated Screen." The series was popular throughout the 1930s, lasting until 1939
Cab Calloway’s Minnie the Moocher (which he performed in The Blues Brothers Movie nearly 60 years later) would be her biggest hit.

Minnie the Moocher particularly defined Betty's character as a teenager of a modern era, at odds with the old world ways of her parents. In the cartoon, after a disagreement with her parents, Betty runs away from home, accompanied by her boyfriend Bimbo, only to get lost in a haunted cave. A ghostly walrus (rotoscoped from live-action footage of Calloway), sings Calloway's famous song "Minnie the Moocher", accompanied by several other ghosts and skeletons. This haunting performance sends the frightened Betty and Bimbo back to the safety of home. "Minnie the Moocher" served as a promotion for Calloway's subsequent stage appearances, and it also established Betty Boop as a cartoon star.

So as you can see, the world has been fascinated with cartoon bands for quite some time now and may it continue to do so.

Friday, 15 April 2011

The Hex Girls


Direct from Scooby Doo to you

Thorn - lead singer and guitarist. She is sultry and her voice seems to seduce audiences. Thorn is the only one of the Hex Girls whose real name (Sally McKnight) is known. She is quite shy when not on stage, and claims that she is "1/16 Wiccan on [her] mother's side" (although this is impossible as Wicca is a 20th century religion, not a hereditary biological condition). She has long black hair with red highlights, teal (sometimes green) eyes, and wears a black and red dress in The Witch's Ghost, but a red and purple dress in The Legend of the Vampire. Her guitar shares several characteristics of models made by Dean Guitars(the "V" headstock) and B.C. Rich (the eccentric body style, in this case the outline of a bat).

Voice Actor: Jennifer Hale.
Dusk - drummer and back-up singer. Of the three girls, Dusk reveals herself to be the fiercest, as well as the rebel of the band, and does not like to speak much about herself. She also tends to show that she is tough, but on rare occasions she displays strong feelings of love and friendship towards her friends. She has blonde hair (usually in pigtails) and wears a green dress. In the What's New, Scooby Doo episode "The Vampire Strikes Back," it was revealed she was leaving the Hex Girls to go solo (although this was probably just a rumor that was published in the magazine that Daphne was reading, because throughout the episode there are no more references to that subject).
§ Voice Actor: Jane Wiedlin
Luna - keyboardist and back-up singer. Of the three, she is considered the calm, wisest one. It was her father, a dentist, who outfitted the band with their trademark fangs. She appears to be of African descent, and has bright, dyed-red hair, black eyes and wears a purple dress. She is protective of her keyboard and prefers no one but herself touches it. Not much else is known about her. Her parents used to listen to glam rock albums.
Voice Actor: Kimberly Brooks.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

For the love of the Dandenongs Part One Winter 2010


Whilst living in Croydon I spent a lot of time looking across to the mountain, now I live in Boronia rather than live in the shadow of the mountain I spend as much quality time as I can finding the treasures it holds.
Now that Parks Victoria has abolished entry fees for all Parks there can’t be a valid excuse not to see some of the great gardens in the Mount Dandenong area.
This month I visited two more that I had a tendency to drive past on the way to somewhere else and took the opportunity to visit.
The first being the George Tindale Gardens a small but beautifully kept slice of peace and tranquility on the Sassafras to Kallista road, I’m glad Parks Victoria have signs the size of bus stops or else I would have missed it all together, being as it is on a bend in the road.
The compact little garden in crisscrossed with little paths and for the budding horticulturalist there is a great variety of species of plants clearly marked. A section of the garden was closed off because of the danger of falling limbs but most of these were on the peripheral. The moss covered paths were a beautiful touch to what are some beautiful and green lawns this winter.
But up the road a kilometer or so was the real treasure and I’m still kicking myself I didn’t bring my camera.
The beautiful Alfred Nicholas Gardens seem to hide something that in its day were grander than we could ever expect to see again.
With it’s wonderful sloping paths and stacked stonework creating layers in the hills you know a lot of effort and love went into this garden and as the ferns and native plants mingle with the Hydrangeas and Camellias you sense that there was more to this garden when it was created in the 1930s, the lake deep in the heart of the garden is still kept in pristine condition with it’s water feature feeding the small pond with it’s inner islands accessible by bridges that make it perfect for a picnic. The added touch of the old boathouse (complete with row boat) almost adds a touch of magic to a by gone era.
But the biggest find that knocked me sideways was what the gardens used to be a part of.
I had no idea one of the best examples of Art deco architecture in Victoria was closer to my house than Knox shopping centre.
Barnham Beeches Estate the Heritage listed house that Alfred Nicholas built and died in before his beloved gardens were finished is a piece of architectural beauty that is sadly hidden behind a high link fence and as far as I know no real plans for restoration or renovation in the foreseeable future.
The house is clearly visible but inaccessible and even though it is officially not part of the gardens itself they still seem to be intrinsically bonded together.
After walking around marveling (from such an annoyingly short distance) at the smooth round concrete structure with it’s ornate metal work and large windows you roam the gardens and you can picture Miss Marple or Inspector Poirot asking questions to gentlemen in perfectly pleated trousers and jumpers draped over their shoulders while women in knee length summer skirts wearing broad brimmed hats look on in interest.

Burnham Beeches in its heyday
I’d love to see this property brought back to its former glory if not for historical significance just for the true beauty of the original setting.
It’s almost like we have ready made time capsule in our back yard.
I was so inspired that after the visit, that I began doing a bit of research on the property, I discovered it has had a colourful 70 odd years of existence.
The property was built in 1933, an built in the art deco or Steamline Moderne a later type of art deco by Australian architect Harry Norris whose building still stand in the CBD including Mitchell House. Norris was heavily influenced after travels to Europe and The United States on a commission by another prominent Victorian institute CJ Coles.
A contemporary journal article of the day wrote that the house included a “private theaterette with talkie equipment”, an “electric pipe-organ” in the music room, orchid houses, a dairy with “prize Jersey cows”, and the gardens included artificial waterfalls, a lake and floodlighting at night.
Alfred Nicholas didn’t get to enjoy his house long he died in 1937, this was before the gardens were completed but his legacy lives on.
During World War 2 Mrs. Nicholas moved out the house was used a children’s hospital, returning to do renovations in the late 40s Alfred’s widow moved out and lived permanently in their Toorak house and the house was turned into a research facility for the Family business who made the popular Aspro brand pain relief tables.
The gardens were eventually donated to the State Government in 1965 and Barnham Beeches was sold and renovated as a hotel in 1981 where it operated until it closed its doors in 1992. Where it has been bought and sold but not brought back into any useful purpose, though the fascia and gardens are still kept in excellent condition the public are denied access.
I strongly recommend a visit to the gardens and while you can’t access the mansion its stream line, three story wonder is easily viewed from the driveway and while you’re at it enjoy the Gardens that fill the Dandenongs, if they’re administrated by Parks Victoria they are free on entry, this includes other wonderful places of interest like the Rhododendron Gardens in Olinda and the William Ricketts Sanctuary.
reprinted article from 09/10 edition of the BBCN