Category Archives: nostalgia

Quisp

Finally my local Shop-Rite has decided to stock Quisp cereal. This is kinda cool, rather than drive a couple miles away to the Acme, or ordering through the mail, we can get Quisp almost any time we want. For a long time, that wasn’t really possible. Quisp was among the missing.

Quisp was my favorite cereal when I was a kid way way back when. Way before Frosted Flakes and Rice Krispies, I loved me some Quisp. The cereal was what I would munch while watching the Saturday morning cartoons and beg for in the supermarket because it had a toy inside. I have a distinct memory of my big sister building the toy flying saucer from inside the box. That’s right, a toy so complex it had to be put together. She even attached a thread to it so it would appear to fly on its own.

Yeah, we’re talking about real cereal, it’s even made mostly of corn and sugar, in the shape of little flying saucers. It even took its name from the little alien who was the cereal’s mascot, who was featured in a series of animated commercials during Saturday mornings, by Jay Ward, who also did “Rocky and Bullwinkle.” Can you get more retro than that?

On Saturday mornings back in the day, the commercials were a little longer, not thirty-second buy-me blasts, but sometimes multi-minute-to-be-continued-on-a-later-break stories. The ads for the original G.I. Joe Adventure Team were like that, and so were the adventures of Quisp and Quake.



While Quisp was a little alien dude, Quake, his default friend and active rival was a big burly miner (later a superhero-like swashbuckler), and they would argue, fight, and compete over whose cereal was better. Ironically, they tasted the same, but had different shapes, Quisp in the shape of tiny bowl-like flying saucers, and Quake was, I think, big rock-shaped cereal. I really couldn’t say, I always got Quisp.


I remember vividly in 1972 when an election took place where you could vote for your favorite of the two cereals. A nation of kids, wrapped up in the same type of election fever that gripped their adult counterparts, voted for Quisp as the chosen one. Quake won. As his punishment, besides dealing with Quisp’s gloating, Quake became the sidekick to Simon the Quangeroo, who got his own cereal, albeit an orange flavored version.


When another election, one I don’t actually recall, was held in 1976, Quisp won again and Quangeroos were vanquished, ahem, I mean discontinued. The ironic thing is shortly thereafter, all three cereals seemed to vanish from not only television screens, but also store shelves.

Quisp returned in the 1980s briefly and then again in the 1990s as available online only, before coming to select stores. I’m glad it’s now available closer to home, and I’m sure we’ll be getting it more often.

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Nick Cardy 1920-2013

A big chunk of my comics childhood has passed away. Nick Cardy, born Nicolas Viscardi, was perhaps the first influential artist on Aquaman and Teen Titans, but most importantly, he illustrated almost every DC Comics cover in the early 1970s. To me, Nick Cardy’s versions of the DC superheroes were the definitive versions, as those were the ones I saw all throughout my childhood, and even on the covers of books I didn’t read. And he was damn good. Nick Cardy passed away this weekend.

Here is the official press release from DC Comics:

“We are saddened to learn of the passing of Nick Cardy, one of the industry’s greatest artists. A talented draftsman with a knack for layout and energetic cover design, Cardy’s art leapt off the page and helped redefine some of DC Comics’ most lasting characters for a new age.

“Like many early comic pros, Cardy began his career working under the tutelage of the legendary Will Eisner, as part of the Eisner and Iger studio. But it was his arrival at DC Comics in 1950 that saw the artist begin to show signs of the legend that would soon form around him.

“Cardy’s smooth line and dynamic sense of action graced the first appearance of the Teen Titans in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #60, not to mention almost 40 issues of AQUAMAN during the character’s initial Silver Age solo series.

“Cardy continued his relationship with DC’s teen team for the entirety of TEEN TITANS 43-issue Silver Age run, redefining the collection of sidekicks through his innovative and yet still classical brushstroke, with a dash of post-modernist design and 60s swagger.

“Cardy was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2005.

“We’ve lost one of the artistic pillars here at DC,” said Diane Nelson, President of DC Entertainment. “Nick’s work on Aquaman, Teen Titans and beyond helped define how we look at these characters today. Our thoughts go out to his family, friends and many fans.”

“Nick Cardy was a wonderful artist and person, but I’ll always remember his amazing covers,” said Dan DiDio, DC Entertainment Co-Publisher. “From the classic “Is This My Foe?” AQUAMAN #42 image that featured a victorious Black Manta hoisting Aquaman above him to the first appearance of the Teen Titans, Cardy just knew how to get a reader’s attention – and that is a talent that can never be understated. He was my definitive DC cover artist for the 60s.”

“Nick Cardy’s work helped define some of the things we see in comics today and take for granted,” said Jim Lee, DC Entertainment Co-Publisher. “He broke out of the mold in terms of covers and layout and created a truly interactive experience for the reader that directly points back to his time with the Eisner studio. His versions of Aquaman, the Teen Titans and Bat Lash – to name a few – remain iconic today. Our sympathies go out to his family during this difficult time.”

When I think of the Teen Titans, I think not of Marv Wolfman and George Perez’ wonderful New Teen Titans, I think of Nick Cardy’s Titans. The heroes of the comic my big sister read, on which I learned to read, the ones that even taught me about Shakespeare, and slavery, and the Civil War, and the civil rights movement. We have lost a comics legend, and I have lost a piece of my childhood.

To see a few more of Nick Cardy’s covers, check out my Tumblr here.

Corvette Summer

Corvette Summer ~ I guess it’s impossible to relay to those who weren’t there at the time just how huge this dumb little movie was when it came out. Corvette Summer was Mark Hamill’s first film after Star Wars, and his much anticipated non-Luke Skywalker debut.

In the eighth grade, this was the biggest movie of the summer, period, and must see. If you didn’t see it, you just weren’t cool. I guess that’s why I finally saw it on a Friday night on ABC-TV. It is worth noting that as I remember it, no one was really talking about this flick after they saw it. It’s not Shakespeare, but I wouldn’t be as rash to say it was all that bad either.

Other than Mark Hamill as a possibly slow high school shop jock, and Annie Potts in her film debut as a ‘prostitute in training,’ Corvette Summer is pretty much just a pretty typical teenage romp. It had a bit more heart than most, and could have easily been a TV movie of the week, but it wasn’t bad.

Surprisingly it follows the Hero’s Journey template as Luke, I mean Mark, tracks the shop class’ prize Corvette Stingray across country to Las Vegas, where he learns some hard truths.

Annie Potts is fun, and look out for an awkwardly older Danny Bonaduce, there’s also a cast of great 1970s TV and film character actors. Hamill is good, but after all these years I still wonder if his character is just mental because he’s so obsessed with finding the car, or if he’s just mental, period.

Corvette Summer was harmless and enjoyable, and a nice time capsule to high school and the seventies. I dug it then, and I dig it now.

Black Sabbath’s 13

This is the first collaboration of original Black Sabbath members Ozzy Osbourne, Tommy Iommi, and Geezer Butler in years, and the first studio album from the band in almost two decades. To say there has been much anticipation would be redundant. The trio was joined by Audioslave and Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk when original Sabbath drummer Bill Ward declined to participate.

I got a chance to listen to the album recently in an iTunes sneak peek. “13” by Black Sabbath, produced by the legendary Rick Rubin, will be released on June 10th in Europe, and on June 11th in America. Here are my first thoughts on hearing the album.

“End of the Beginning” The album’s opening track is very heavy, but without being too retro, a sound new rather than old. The sinister quality is like a blast from the past, a reminder of what Black Sabbath once was. Ozzy is the star and yet also a cog in this product. When it kicks in, it does go down the retro road, but it also gets a bit more comfortable. However, when it does kick in, it becomes more Ozzy than Sabbath. Despite all that, I dig this.

“God Is Dead” – This is the single everyone has been talking about for weeks now. It’s amazing to me that music still travels by word of mouth in this internet age. Ozzy seems to take a backseat to the music, and let the guitars and bass, and especially here, the lyrics, lead the song. I love the conflicting and self-arguing words of the tune. Ozzy’s sing-song style here is like a trip through time back to the golden age of Sabbath.

This single and the above track were featured in the season finale of “C.S.I.” whetting the appetite of many a fan and non-fan. These two tunes prove relentlessly that not only was Black Sabbath back, but that they easily hold a place in today’s music world. There is evolution and relevance here that is not present in other comebacks of the era.

The quality continues as the tracks run down. “Loner” is better than average with thought provoking lyrics. “Zeitgeist” is uncharacteristically gentle and caressing in its softness. This is another new sound in a sea of noise from the past. I like it.

“Age of Reason” – Speaking of new. This reminds me of “End of the Beginning” in its dual past and present groove. Ozzy again takes backseat to the guitars of Iommi and Butler, and the lyrics take precedence over his voice. All that and the power of his voice never waivers.

Not all of the songs are hits out of the ballpark however. “Live Forever,” “Damaged Soul,” and even the vindictive rocker “Dear Father” are good, but pale with the rest of the album in my opinion. The deluxe version of “13” also includes the tracks “Methademic,” “Peace of Mind,” “Pariah,” and “Naivete in Black.” These were sadly not included in the special iTunes sneak peek.

This is superior music from superior musicians. Black Sabbath started heavy metal, and “13” proves without a doubt that they still rule it from high atop the mountain.

RIP Alan O’Day

We all (well, all of us of a certain age) have that one 45 RPM single that enticed us into the world of listening to the radio, that one single that we heard and then had to own. For me, and for many of my friends in the summer of 1977, it was “Undercover Angel” by Alan O’Day. I remember first hearing it on WIFI-92 FM and then having to have the single.


Alan O’Day passed away this weekend after a six month battle with brain cancer. He also wrote, among many others, the haunting and enigmatic “Angie Baby” for Helen Reddy. We’ve lost yet another icon of the 1970s.

Hostess Potato Chips

RIP Jonathan Winters

April has been terrible with loss. Today we have lost another of the greats. Award winning comedian, actor, writer, impressionist, and recording artist Jonathan Winters passed away today. More of my childhood has gone away.

When I was a kid, Jonathan Winters was everywhere. He was always a guest star on various sitcoms and variety shows, even game shows and talk shows. I’m pretty sure he even had a few short-lived shows of his own as well. His manic improv and madcap characters were always a treat for me.

I loved him in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and it was a family event whenever the film aired in our household. We always couldn’t wait for him to tear the gas station apart. Classic classic comedy. Below you can see that scene, as well as Winters talking a bit about it, and how it helped him come back from a breakdown.

Later in life, he played Mearth, the son of Mork and Mindy in the final season of that sitcom. Being Robin Williams’ idol and inspiration, it is wild to watch him work with and against Winters in a comedic battle of wills.

Later I loved the man in the 1994 version The Shadow, playing it straight as he also did in the dark comedy The Loved One and an episode of “The Twilight Zone” called “A Game of Pool.”

Winters also did voice acting in animation, recorded dozens of comedy albums, wrote poetry, and appeared in television programs as myriad as “Hee Haw,” “The American Sportsman,” and “The New Scooby-Doo Movies.” His final movie role will be the voice of Papa Smurf in The Smurfs 2. We have truly lost another of the legends.

Duck and Cover

Duck and Cover ~ Everyone knows about the classic civil defense film from 1951, but how many of us have actually seen it? I admit that while I have seen huge chunks of this thirty-two minute documentary, I don’t think I had seen it in its entirety until recently.

At the beginning of the Cold War, our greatest fear was nuclear attack from the Russians. This was a short subject shown in theaters to teach folks what to do in case the unthinkable happened – they dropped The Atomic Bomb. Talk about hysteria! They’d never do anything like today, it might upset someone’s sensibilities. Thank goodness for political correctness. Sarcasm mode off.

It’s got some great animation with Bert the Turtle, a very cautious (and very hysterically paranoid) fellow very good at ducking and covering. Very good at it, because, well, he’s a turtle. The thrust is if you heard the air raid sirens, you should duck and cover. This film urged school kids to crawl under their desks and cover their heads in case of attack. We did know what atomic bombs were capable of, right? That’s not going to keep anyone from being vaporized.

This instructional film is definitely a product of its time, so filled with paranoia and hysteria that it probably was a self-fulfilling prophecy, causing as much paranoia and hysteria as it itself was filled with. Probably the scariest thing for me was how scared the kids in this film looked. Both an entertaining and frightening time capsule.

Lost Hits of the New Wave #24

“Antmusic” by Adam and the Ants

In my review, at Biff Bam Pop this week, of Adam Ant’s new album Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter, I talk a bit about my first impressions of Adam and the Ants. You can check it out here.

I remember playing both the Kings of the Wild Frontier and Prince Charming albums constantly and obsessively. I loved them. As I had mentioned before with The Police, I also got to see the music as well on “Rockworld.” It was the beginning of a life long love affair.

No matter how you slice it, Adam Ant is a true superstar of the New Wave, whether he agrees to the label or not. His career has spanned from the mid-1970s to today with this fabulous new album.

“Dog Eat Dog” by Adam and the Ants

Sally Starr RIP