Rocky and Bullwinkle aficionados, rejoice: here’s a ripsnorting celebration of the cartoon characters and their human creators.
A voice actor who works mostly in Australia, Scott has been an ardent admirer of Bullwinkle T. Moose and Rocky Squirrel since childhood—the kind of fan who pestered the cartoon’s production company until it finally gave in and allowed him access to the key players, led by Jay Ward and Bill Scott. (He also got to do his beloved moose’s voice in the forthcoming Rocky and Bullwinkle movie.) His history of the series, written over many years, is full of anecdotes about the team’s improbable success with their sarcastic parody of Cold War–era politics, a pun- and double entendre–riddled send-up of “intrigues, spies and history” that first aired in 1959 and enjoyed a cult following for years to come. Born from the ashes of an earlier (“pretty primitive”) cartoon series called Crusader Rabbit, Rocky and His Friends (those friends being, of course, the likes of Dudley Do-right, Sherman and Peabody, Boris and Natasha), the show was startlingly fresh, even downright subversive. Its corporate sponsors, chief among them the food-production giant General Mills, didn’t quite know what to make of the proceedings and raised frequent objections to matters of content (demanding, for instance, that the word “darn” be removed from a script on the grounds that its use would inspire young viewers to take up swearing). Ward and company, however, generally prevailed, and they inspired others to raise the kiddie-show bar. Their enduring work, writes Scott, reminds us “of a time when the sole purpose of cartoons was laughter—not tie-ins with unprepossessing plush toys, or the dictums of network censors concerned with cutting jokes and substituting tedious ‘new age’ relevance.”
Thoroughly researched and brightly written, this is fine tribute to the famed moose and squirrel duo and their creators.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)