Monday, August 31, 2009

Yo, Rinty!

Toymaker Louis Marx & Co. made a lot of Fort Apache playsets, issuing one annually for 20 years. One of the best was the Rin Tin Tin Fort Apache playset. I got one for Christmas around 1958. It contained 60mm figures as opposed to the usual 54mm in other Western sets, and some of the poses were outstanding. Also included were characters from the TV show The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, 1954-1959.
The show featured an orphan, Rusty B. Company (Lee Aaker) and his German shepherd, Rin Tin Tin, both of whom had been adopted as mascots for B Troop, Fort Apache. Despite the fact that the real Fort Apache didn't have stockade walls or a totem pole and that the Indians in the set didn't look like Apaches, it was still a swell playset.

Pictured are the character figures from the set (l-r): Lt. Rip Masters (James Brown), Rinty, and Rusty. No, not the King of Soul James Brown. In some areas of the country Rusty was released without the rifle. I always thought Marx missed the boat by omitting Sgt. Biff O'Hara as a character figure, but I suppose they couldn't get them all. The other regular on the series was Trooper Boone, played by Rand Brooks.

Rinty was portrayed by three different dogs over the course of the show, two of which were descendants of the original Rin Tin Tin, whose movie career was launched in 1922.

More trivia: Lee Aaker was one of the campers in the original Spin & Marty series. The same dog figure was used as Roy Rogers' pet, Bullet, in the Roy Rogers playsets.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wyatt Earp in 54mm

I'm horning in on Dave Lewis's idea of running pictures of Marx playset character figures. I'm even stealing his first presentation, Wyatt Earp. But I'm carrying it one step further. The unpainted photo is Dave's, showing Wyatt as he was created about half a century ago. The second is a lead casting of Wyatt made from the same figure and painted by yours truly. Dave reports the Earp figure's value at $40. I think it might be twice that but with collector markets you never know.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Forgot to mention the two biggest buzz words at WWC: platform and monetize.

Today is the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. I left New York before it happened, but I probably wouldn't have gone anyway. I remember the first time I saw the movie, however. I brought Anne M and wore my flower-print pants, which I still have. Waist size 29". The theater complex was next to the Winchester Mystery House in California. I was blown away by the performances, especially Joe Cocker, The Who, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash. And Country Joe and the Fish, and Ten Years After, and Sha Na Na, and Jimi Hendrix, and Richie Havens, and all the others. Even Joan Baez and her bullshit tribute to David, the guy she later divorced.


I spent last weekend in Portland at the Willamette Writer's Conference. Thanks to the machinations of Dave "Evan" Lewis, noted short story writer, I was able to finesse a job in the Pitch Practice room, helping people fine tune their pitches. These people would later pitch their book/screenplay/TV show to an agent. They paid $20 for a 10-minute session with an agent and most of them didn't know what a pitch was. I heard lots of synopses, many of which were very skillfully and carefully prepared, but not many true pitches. It was my job to advise them of the difference. I wasn't paid.

Among the more memorable people I saw were: Debbie, who wrote a Hollywood tell-all about her days working parties dressed as Snow White and other characters; Marni, a 19-year-old writer; Chandara, an adorable 23-year-old with a mystery movie based on the characters in Alice in Wonderland; and Amy, who wrote a young adult fantasy. In fact, a lot of people wanted to pitch YA fantasies, no doubt hoping the Harry Potter lightning would strike twice. Three times if you count the scar on his forehead. There was Bradford, whose YA fantasy was 55,000 words too long and a very obvious Harry Potter knockoff. Blythe, Cindy, and John also had books in this vein.

I heard only one I thought was a dud. A woman pitched an HBO series about Catholic school girls (yeah, that part sounds okay), but had no real continuity and spent more time telling about budgets and camera techniques than the idea.

I attended five panels, nearly falling asleep in four of them. Not because I was bored, just tired. They were uniformly well-done and I enjoyed them. The subjects were promotion (parts one and two), creating characters, 101 Tips to Make Your Novel More Publishable (excellent handout), and one about grammar and usage (another good handout).

I had to pay $27/day for food--breakfast and lunch. It wasn't bad, but I could have eaten a lot better on that money elsewhere. Not that I'm complaiming. It was a good conference and I had fun as a pitch helper. A number of people thanked me later for my advice and it was good to hear that they'd crossed their first hurtle to publication--when an agent asks for more.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Little Bit of Evan

Portland's Dave Lewis, who writes as Evan Lewis, just sold a short story to Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. It's slated to appear in the Feb 2010 issue. Way to go, Ev.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Cost of Inoffensiveness

I was shopping yesterday and thought I should get a new deodorant as mine is running low. I use a stick type. The first thing I noticed was that all the deodorants were more expensive than when I bought my last one. So I started checking the unit price--in this case the cost-per-pound of each brand. I was astonished to see that the cheapest one was over $14/lb and one was over $100/lb. Meat is cheaper. You can buy a human being for less. This puts me on the horns of a dilemma. Should I eat fine steaks served by a gorgeous slave girl or slather some hexachlorophene in my armpits every morning?

Oh, and I decided to wait for a sale on B.O. juice since I still have some left. That'll give me time to cogitate on the matter.