'70's Clackers to '90's Astrojax

When I was a kid in the '70's, we had Clackers, a toy that was minutes of fun or hours of pain if you weren't very coordinated. Go here for instructions on how to do tricks. People even made their own sets out of colored resin. Based on the Spanish Bola, a weapon made famous by the South American gaucho, Clackers were discontinued when over-exuberant (hyperactive) practitioners clacked them to the point where they shattered. If you'd like to make yourself a relatively safe pair, go here.

The modern version of this toy is the Astrojax, which combines juggling and yo-yo moves. It requires more coordination and skill, but also allows for more creativity and has more entertainment value.


Adam Reed Tucker, Lego Architect

Adam Reed Tucker is a trained architect and LEGO Certified Professional (one of only 11 worldwide.) To learn more about him and his work, go here.


Edgar Mueller, 3-D and Perspective Artist

Edgar Mueller does 3D Pavement Art. A Master of street painting, Mueller uses the street as a canvas. If one looks from the right spot, the three-dimensional painting becomes the perfect illusion. Mueller paints over large areas of urban public life and gives them a new appearance, thereby challenging the perceptions of passers-by.


Toothpick Artist Recreates San Francisco

Beginning at the age of 17, Scott Weaver of Rohnert Park, California started building the Golden Gate Bridge with toothpicks. Thirty-some years later, he's completed an entire replica of San Francisco, with details like the Palace of Fine Arts, surfers at Ocean Beach, and Chinese dragons.


Fess Parker Dies At 85

Actor Fess Parker, best known for his television roles as historical figures Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, has died at the age of 85. You can read here about his career and legacy.

"Davy Crockett Theme" Sung by Fess Parker

"Daniel Boone Theme" Sung by Fess Parker

Daniel Boone Theme

(Full Length)
Music by George Bruns
Lyrics by Tom Blackburn
© Disney. All rights reserved.

King of the Wild Frontier (USA 1955)
Fess Parker as Davy Crockett

Born on a mountain top in Tennessee, greenest state in the land of the free
Raised in the woods so's he knew ev'ry tree, kilt him a b'ar when he was only three
Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier!

In eighteen thirteen the Creeks uprose, addin' redskin arrows to the country's woes
Now, Injun fightin' is somethin' he knows, so he shoulders his rifle an' off he goes
Davy, Davy Crockett, the man who don't know fear!

Off through the woods he's a marchin' along, makin' up yarns an' a singin' a song
Itchin' fer fightin' an' rightin' a wrong, he's ringy as a b'ar an' twic't as strong
Davy, Davy Crockett, the buckskin buccaneer!

Andy Jackson is our gen'ral's name, his reg'lar soldiers we'll put to shame
Them redskin varmints us Volunteers'll tame, 'cause we got the guns with the sure-fire aim
Davy, Davy Crockett, the champion of us all!

Headed back to war from the ol' home place, but Red Stick was leadin' a merry chase
Fightin' an' burnin' at a devil's pace, south to the swamps on the Florida Trace
Davy, Davy Crockett, trackin' the redskins down!

Fought single-handed through the Injun War, till the Creeks was whipped an' peace was in store
An' while he was handlin' this risky chore, made hisself a legend for evermore
Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier!

He give his word an' he give his hand, that his Injun friends could keep their land
An' the rest of his life he took the stand, that justice was due every redskin band
Davy, Davy Crockett, holdin' his promise dear!

Home fer the winter with his family, happy as squirrels in the ol' gum tree
Bein' the father he wanted to be, close to his boys as the pod an' the pea
Davy, Davy Crockett, holdin' his young'uns dear!

But the ice went out an' the warm winds came, an' the meltin' snow showed tracks of game
An' the flowers of Spring filled the woods with flame, an' all of a sudden life got too tame
Davy, Davy Crockett, headin' on West again!

Off through the woods we're ridin' along, makin' up yarns an' singin' a song
He's ringy as a b'ar an' twict as strong, an' knows he's right 'cause he ain' often wrong
Davy, Davy Crockett, the man who don't know fear!

Lookin' fer a place where the air smells clean, where the trees is tall an' the grass is green
Where the fish is fat in an untouched stream, an' the teemin' woods is a hunter's dream
Davy, Davy Crockett, lookin' fer Paradise!

Now he's lost his love an' his grief was gall, in his heart he wanted to leave it all
An' lose himself in the forests tall, but he answered instead his country's call
Davy, Davy Crockett, beginnin' his campaign!

Needin' his help they didn't vote blind, They put in Davy 'cause he was their kind
Sent up to Nashville the best they could find, a fightin' spirit an' a thinkin' mind
Davy, Davy Crockett, choice of the whole frontier!

The votes were counted an' he won hands down, so they sent him off to Washin'ton town
With his best dress suit still his buckskins brown, a livin' legend of growin' renown
Davy, Davy Crockett, the Canebrake Congressman!

He went off to Congress an' served a spell, fixin' up the Govern'ments an' laws as well
Took over Washin'ton so we heered tell, an' patched up the crack in the Liberty Bell
Davy, Davy Crockett, seein' his duty clear!

Him an' his jokes travelled all through the land, an' his speeches made him friends to beat the band
His politickin' was their favorite brand, an' everyone wanted to shake his hand
Davy, Davy Crockett, helpin' his legend grow!

He knew when he spoke he sounded the knell, of his hopes for White House an' fame as well
But he spoke out strong so hist'ry books tell, an' patched up the crack in the Liberty Bell
Davy, Davy Crockett, seein' his duty clear!

When he come home his politickin' done, the western march had just begun
So he packed his gear an' his trusty gun, an' lit out grinnin' to follow the sun
Davy, Davy Crockett, leadin' the pioneer!

He heard of Houston an' Austin so, to the Texas plains he jest had to go
Where freedom was fightin' another foe, an' they needed him at the Alamo
Davy, Davy Crockett, the man who don't know fear!

His land is biggest an' his land is best, from grassy plains to the mountain crest
He's ahead of us all meetin' the test, followin' his legend into the West
Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier!

Disney Sing-Along


Walter Frederick Morrison (January 23, 1920 – February 9, 2010)

On June 17, 1957, Wham-O Inc. changed the name of the Pluto Platter to Frisbee, which disturbed Walter “Fred” Morrison, the inventor of the world-famous disc, who thought the new sobriquet would never fly.

“I thought Frisbee was a terrible name,” Morrison, now 87, said. “I thought it was insane.”

On Tuesday, February 10th, in Monroe, Utah, Morrison died at the age of 90.

Utah House Rep. Kay McIff, an attorney who represented Morrison in a royalties case, says Morrison died at his home. McIff is from Richfield, Morrison’s original hometown.

“That simple little toy has permeated every continent in every country, as many homes have Frisbees as any other device ever invented,” McIff said. “How would you get through your youth without learning to throw a Frisbee?”

Morrison’s son, Walt, relayed to The Associated Press Thursday that “old age caught up” with his father and that he also had cancer.

“He was a nice guy. He helped a lot of people,” Walt Morrison said. “He was an entrepreneur. He was always looking for something to do.”

Morrison sold the rights to his “Pluto Platter” in 1957 to the Wham-O corporation. The plastic flying disc was later renamed the “Frisbee,” with sales surpassing 200 million discs. It is now a staple at beaches and college campuses across the country and spawned sports like Frisbee golf and the team sport Ultimate.

An official disc golf course at Creekside Park in the Salt Lake City suburb of Holladay is named for Morrison.

In 2001, Morrison co-wrote a book with Frisbee enthusiast and historian Phil Kennedy.

According to Kennedy, Morrison used to toss a tin cake pan on the beach in California with his future wife, Lu,. The idea evloved as Morrison considered ways to make the cake pans fly better. After serving as a pilot in World War II, Morrison began manufacturing his flying discs in 1948.

He would hawk the discs at local fairs and eventually attracted Wham-O Manufacturing.

Kennedy says Wham-O adopted the name “Frisbee” because that’s what college students in New England were calling the Pluto Platters. The name came from the Frisbie Pie Co., a local bakery whose empty tins were tossed like the soon-to-be named Frisbee.

Walt Morrison said his father is survived by three children. The family is planning a service for Morrison’s friends and relatives Saturday at the Cowboy Corral in Elsinore.

Fame and fortune from a flip

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"Alley Oppsy Daisy!” It’s the 50th Anniversary of Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose, Pt. 4

"Alley Oppsy Daisy!”
It’s the
50th Anniversary of Rocky the
Flying Squirrel and
Bullwinkle J. Moose, Pt. 4

Shane Shellenbarger

As you'll recall from last time, our intrepid band of animators, writers, and voice actors were experiencing troubles South of the Border. The product coming from the Mexican animation studio, Val-Mar, did not match the quality of the pilot produced in the U.S. of A. The behind-the-scenes politics and Machiavellian machinations are explored in great detail in Keith Scott's book, "The Moose That Roared." Suffice it to say, Jay Ward had a major problem and neither enough time nor money to fix it properly. The show, which Jay Ward and Bill Scott had originally believed would be a daily five minute program, had been contracted between P.A.T. and General Mills as fifty-two half hour shows. Financially, this meant that each half-hour show would be produced for $8,520 at a time when the average one minute TV commercial cost between eight and nine thousand dollars. In addition, Ward and Scott would have to co-produce the series in its entirety for no added money (save for percentages of the show elements) while deferring their own salaries until show delivery.

Meanwhile, things were moving at a lighting pace in the Los Angeles studio. In deference to his health problems, Ward curtailed his commute from Berkeley and took a combination office/apartment on the cusp of West Hollywood. The writing staff was beefed up by bringing Chris Jenkyns, George Atkins, Chris Hayward, Skip Craig, and Lloyd Turner. Layout animators David Hanan and Bernie Gruver came on board. Alex Anderson contributing two scripts, Ted Parmelee signed on as a freelance animation director, with Al Shean filling out the art department. It was the summer of 1959 and events were about to go from hectic to a grinding halt.

After pricing the film stock, approving the finished theme music, and commencing the animation of the show titles, Ward invoiced the bills back east to P.A.T. Two sets of payments were delayed and the director, Parmelee, refused to go to Mexico. The writers were concerned and their writing suffered. Ward feared that his reputation would be ruined. Bill Scott sent word that a recording session had been canceled and that writing and storyboards were not moving forward. In essence, all work had stopped. Four weeks went by without funds coming from P.A.T. Ward and Scott threatened breach of contract. Eventually it came to light that P.A.T., the company financing Rocky and His Friends, had no money. P.A.T. had planned to borrow against the General Mills contract, but Manufacturers Hanover (P.A.T.'s bank) would not approve the loan due to the Mexican production link. Len Key attempted an end run play. He signed a performance bond with American Surety (a AAA insurance Carrier) guarantying completion and delivery of the show. He took that and the General Mills contract to Citicorp in Mexico, presented them to the Citicorp manager and asked for a loan. The manager, who was an American, declined the loan, stating that his bank didn't deal with gringos because gringos don't win in Mexican courts, which meant that if the Mexican studio defaulted Ward Productions couldn't collect.

General Mills began to panic. They wanted Rocky and His Friends so that they could compete with Kellogg's sponsorship of Huckleberry Hound. Finally, Gordon Johnson talked the ad agency, D-F-S, into guaranteeing a $125,000 loan from the Chemical Corn Exchange Bank. Johnson and a friend, Robert Travis, purchased 60 percent of the stock in P.A.T., with the entirety of the stock pledged to the ad agency pending repayment of the loan. By July 10th, Dancer-Fitzgerald-Sample had paid off all outstanding debt. This meant that the ad agency was the de facto executive producer of the show. Eventually, the Rocky group was able to discharge the loan six weeks early.

Based on these experiences, Jay Ward didn't want to keep his financial future exclusively in the Rocky and His Friends basket. He began to push for a second TV show. Ward still believed that a puppet show could work, but there seemed to be little interest in the industry. NBC showed some curiosity in a Ward produced Winnie the Pooh pilot, but nothing came of it. For the time being at least, Ward was shackled to Rocky and His Friends.

Around August 1959, the Mexican unit announced they were ready to start. Ward and Scott had their doubts, but were encouraged when they were able to secure the talents of award-winning UPA designer/director Bill Hurtz. For Ward and Scott, this was the first positive note since the deal had been struck. Hurtz job was oversee the work of the Mexican animators, judging the work on a daily basis, while keeping an eye on the budget and critical dates. Ward gave Hurtz the authority to reject any work he deemed below standard. In the meantime, the ad agency D-F-S was pushing for a twice weekly airing by September 29th, 1959. Armed with Jay Ward's guidelines and mindful of the pressure from the ad agency, Hurtz arrived in Mexico on July 20th to find that things weren't as ready as they had been stated. Val-Mar had no telephone, no English-speaking stenographer, the magnetic film from Los Angeles was being held up in customs, and the layout department was wholly inadequate. Soon, Jim Hiltz and Gerald Baldwin (who had traveled with Hurtz) found themselves pressed into double duty, redrawing layouts as well as directing the cartoons.

The budget again reared its ugly head. Hanna-Barbera (H-B) was producing its half-hour shows for $21,000 per episode, nearly three times the Rocky budget. Ward reasoned that their shows should have been budgeted above H-B's, since Rocky had more dialogue, movement, scene changes, and more voice actors. In 2009, a 30-second advertisement aired during The Simpsons costs over $200,000 dollars. Val-Mar was falling behind schedule and Ward knew that the September 29th air date was merely a pipe dream.

Come back next time for part 5 entitled, "Gringos Are Mucho Loco Or Take Back What You Said About José Doroteo Arango Arámbula."

For more info go to : http://tinyurl.com/Shane-Info-Blog