Happy Birthday to the LAVA LAMP: Fifty Years of Cool Wax!

This piece was originally published July 15th, 2013.

Lava Lamp IconIn the mid-Fifties, a former WWII pilot and post-war British accountant named Edward Craven Walker was at a local English country pub called Queen’s Head along with a friend, and found himself staring at a homemade egg timer made by one of the pub’s regulars.

This particular object, which Walker described as a “contraption made out of a cocktail shaker, old tins and things” dated from WWII, and was filled with two immiscible liquids (liquids that do not mix together).

As the contents, “odd oily globules” were heated upon the pub’s stove, the wax rose and signaled that your egg was ready.

Inspired, he purchased the egg timer/lamp and worked for a decade and a half tinkering with various liquids and containers in an attempt to create a better version. He achieved his goal in 1963.

Walker filed a patent for a “Display Device” in 1965 and but had already started merchandising his creation in September of 1963 as a company called Crestworth Ltd. using the name Astro Lamp.

 

Edward Craven Walker

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REVEALING DAVID BOWIE’S BIRTHDAY SECRET

This piece was originally published January 14th, 2013.

David Bowie Secret Post IconOn Tuesday, January 8th at 5:00 AM, David Bowie, on what was his 66th birthday, gave his fans around the world an unprecedented gift by suddenly releasing a single, with an accompanying video and new photograph, on his web site and for immediate download purchase on iTunes.

The song was simply added without any notifications or press releases.

As I saw the video and listened to the song, with those incredible, familiar sounding chords, I knew that, for myself, 2013 was already off to a great beginning. For here was never expected new music from one of my top 5 favorite artists that I have revered since I was an inquisitive little child staring at the strange alien-like being depicted on the American LP cover for his Space Oddity album.

Presented was this fantastic surprise that is truly one the best kept secrets to ever have been tucked away by any legendary mega-selling. hugely influential musical performer long thought to be retired and finished with making music.

Where Are We Now?, The Next Day, Ziggy Stardust, Berlin Trilogy, Thin White Duke

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JOHN ENTWISTLE: Halloween’s Favorite Bass Player

This piece was originally published October 22nd, 2012.

John Entwistle was the legendary and highly influential bass player for The Who.

Before Entwistle, pop music fans of all different styles could care less about the bass as an instrument, often not paying that much attention to who was playing it or listening for its sound.

Playing the bass as a lead instrument with a full on volume, treble and bass attack, and with his very specific selection of type of bass, plus what strings and amplification to use, Entwistle brought an uncompromising new approach to the bass guitar.

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“Of Sounds And Something Else”: Remembering Music Producer TOM WILSON

This piece was originally published September 10th, 2012.

Tom Wilson Post Icon TemplateSeptember 6th marked the anniversary of the death in 1978 of one of music’s great producers of the 1950’s and 1960’s, Tom Wilson.

Although his name is not as familiar as that of say, Phil Spector, Brian Wilson or George Martin, his achievements and influence are profoundly important.

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Record producer and DJ Tom Wilson stands outside ABC Studios, in New York City,
promoting his radio show “The Music Factory” — June 21, 1967. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

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SEAN HARTTER’S FILM POSTERS FROM ALTERNATE UNIVERSES

This piece was originally published November 21st, 2011.

SH Post TemplateSean Hartter is a prolific comic book artist, illustrator, writer and musician hailing from Massachusetts.

Among his many accomplishments and talents, Sean’s work has included writing and drawing a story for a Mexican comic book, contributing artwork for issues of the U.K. based Cereal: Geek Magazine, composing and releasing music under the group name Brothermaniac, working with the syndicated horror television show Saturday Fright Special and creating a character called Nobody the Idiot, which since 2007 has been drawn by a zillion artists as part of an ongoing project.


More recently, Sean has been designing film posters that allow him the ultimate freedom to recast and re-imagine some of his favorite films in ways that are both colorfully thought up, but also very skillfully reworked.


Incredibly fascinating and as clever in scope as you’d ever dream of, it is with these wonderful and truly fantastic “posters of alternate universes” as the subject, that I talked with Sean Hartter here at Mystery Box H.Q.
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MAURICE GOSFIELD: From Private Doberman to Benny The Ball

This piece was originally published June 7th, 2011.

Maurice Gosfield TemplateThere are few character actors in the history of television that can equal Maurice Gosfield.

He had a screen presence that is still unmatched and a voice so distinctive as to lend itself to that of a timelessly beloved cartoon character.

Maurice Gosfield, is the 3rd selection for this installment of a regular Mystery Box feature called Great Comedians Of The Past.

Without hesitation, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you:

GREAT COMEDIANS OF THE PAST #3: MAURICE GOSFIELD


With his 5’4″, 200 lb. stature, and devil may care good looks, Maurice Gosfield took over Hollywood and became a man that women swooned over, children called their hero and men dreamed of emulating.
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NICK LOWE’S LABOUR OF LUST: A CLASSIC BY A CLASSIC REISSUED AT LAST!

This post was originally published October 29th, 2011.

Nick Lowe Post Icon

Nick Lowe will probably never be asked to guest on American Idol, and if he were I am pretty sure he’d say “no thanks”.

Although his critiques would probably have made former judge Simon Cowell seem like an easy pushover, there are few artists who have earned more right to have one of their songs performed on such a show or give some advice to the fledgling performers than this legendary British singer-songwriter who has made an indelible mark on Pop, Rock and Roll, Punk, New Wave, Country Rock, Power Pop, and virtually any other similiarly identified style.

Lowe’s body of work include a few Top 40 nuggets, one of his songs receives daily airplay around the world, and another actually turned up on a mega selling Grammy Award winning record breaking album.

 

How’s that for a resume?

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Richard Gottehrer: From Strange Candy to Dum Dum Pop

This piece was originally published february 8th, 2011.

I Want Candy Post IconOnce upon a time, back in the early ’60s, there was a trio of American songwriters/producers who, working as a team, had previously scored some major pop hits such as writing the chart topping song “My Boyfriend’s Back” for The Angels.

This trio, Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer (a.k.a. FGG Productions) then decided to get into the recording and performing act themselves.

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The Strangeloves sans the black sweaters

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They pretended to be three Australian brothers, Giles, Miles and Niles Strange, who hailed from a sheep farm down under, where they became wealthy via an invention for crossbreeding the long-haired “Gottehrer” sheep.

Now, having plenty of money and time on their hands, they figured it’d be fun to form a pop band, thereby naming themselves The Strangeloves.

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Drew Friedman’s TOO SOON?: 15 Years of Even More Genius

This piece was originally published November 23rd, 2010. Drew Friedman Tor Post Icon

One day, the gods of all ART great and marvelous, finally will decide to roll out their lengthy gilded achievement banner listing cartoonists, illustrators and caricaturists. This banner will have been imprinted (in a Ben-Day dots process) with all the names of those who have been creatively talented beyond the skills of mere mortal men and women.

Without a doubt, near the top of this list of illustrious souls, residing among the gloriously renown names of Jack Kirby, Harvey Kurtzman, Basil Wolverton, Jim Steranko, Wally Wood, Steve Ditko, Charles Addams, Edward Gorey and Robert Crumb among others, will be the name…

Drew Friedman.

For, as R. Crumb so eloquently has written, “I wish I had this guy’s talent.”

I have been a huge fan of Drew Friedman’s work for some 30 years now. Ever since I first laughed in astonishment at the panels that he and his equally talented brother, writer/musician Josh Alan Friedman (subject of a future Mystery Box column) came up with for inclusion in the seminal RAW Graphix Magazine, beginning with issue #1 in 1980.

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RAW Volume 1, Number 1 (July 1980) Continue reading, please click here…