that examines the Chinese food phenomenon in America and a bit internationally.
Ever wonder about those paper boxes with the wire handles or if there were a real General Tso of chicken fame? The answers are here.
It tells the stories of individuals too, from a lady who started delivering food in New York City and began a menu war to a family's dramatic consequences opening a restaurant in a small Georgia town.
It also mentions regional Chinese creations like Szechuan Alligator, which I enjoyed recently in Mandeville, Louisiana. And no, it does not taste like chicken.
Book Review: RUDOLPH, FROSTY AND CAPTAIN KANGAROO: The Musical Life of Hecky Krasnow, Producer of the World's Most Beloved Children's Songs
Posted on Mar 29 2008 by Greg
It's a long title, to be sure, it is so terribly important that more people know who the great Hecky Krasnow is, and what he has made possible, that even those who read the title can get the idea.
He should be a household name, considering that, if not for him, we would never have heard the songs "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," Frosty the Snowman," "Here Comes Peter Cottontail" or one of my favorites, "Suzy Snowflake." He believed in these songs when others did not. He bucked the Columbia brass when they and every other label had no use for Johnny Marks' "Rudolph" song. Even Gene Autry was reluctant. The song made added millions to Autry's bank account, as well as those at Columbia who first rejected it. The only one who did not become rich was Krasnow, who was, like many of us, a corporate worker bee with a wife and children to support.
But as this book makes abundantly clear, Hecky Krasnow was rich in the ways that really count. In an exhaustively detailed account of growing up in a suburban household where Dad often took the kids to work, where the likes of Gene Kelly, Rosemary Clooney, Art Carney, Bob Keeshan, Paul Tripp or Jackie Robinson was doing a children's recording, Judy Gail Krasnow deftly shares her storytelling gifts by providing as many sensory details as possible. You really feel like you're having dinner at the Krasnow's, right down to the tasty roast beef with pan drippings.
The anecdotes run the gamut to the absurdly funny (a party at "Tubby the Tuba" composer George Kleinsinger's Manhattan penthouse, which is a living jungle of wild animals, bugs and shrubberies) to the frightening (personal accounts of racism and a kid's-eye-view of McCarthyism). Either Judy has one astonishing memory or she kept a very copious diary.
When rock & roll and the youth market began to change the face of mass entertainment, the "golden age" of children's records as Krasnow experienced it (with kid discs like "Little Red Monkey" hitting the charts and crossing over into mainstream pop) were fading. (And yes, the success of Disney's venture into recording also crowded out most of the competition -- what can I say?)
Fortunately, Judy Gail Krasnow has created this loving tribute to her father so we can all appreciate his contributions to our lives (that's one of our goals with Mouse Tracks, too -- to draw attention to the unsung heroes). It's also reassuring to learn that this man was such a kind and decent human being. It would have been so disillusioning to find out that the person behind these records really cared about what he was doing and who was listening.
His work may not have made him rich, but we are all the richer for it.
Book Review: KIRBY, KING OF COMICS
Posted on Mar 19 2008 by Greg
Large format, or coffee table, books are sometimes more about the visuals than the text, but Kirby, King of Comics
is one of the exceptions. Written with depth and detail by animation/comic/TV writer/uber
blogger Mark Evanier
, this lavish, 9x12 tome has as much substance as style.
It tells a life and career story that many of us can identify with, whether we read superhero comics or not. But the story of such an astonishing art and story talent could not be told without substantial illustrations that are its heart and soul, and this book never disappoints on either front.
Whether you're into comics or not, your breath will be taken away by the dynamism of every frame -- not to mention spectacular spreads like the one from "Street Code," in which a dozen or more stories are woven into an eye-popping two page scene.
Perhaps most touching and compelling is the constant struggle Kirby fought for recognition for his substantial role in creating iconic characters that made millionaires of others, balanced with his concern for his family's financial security and his devotion for his unfailingly supportive wife, Roz.
Fortunately the story, as Evanier weaves it, has a happy, somewhat bittersweet ending with a wonderful Fantastic Four excerpt in which The Thing (Kirby's alter ego) sums up a truly universal legacy.
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