A Giant of Western Civilization Passes

You probably don’t know Milton Levine by name. But you know him by his works.

His was an American life. Born in Pittsburgh, in 1913, to Russian Jewish immigrants. Fought in World War II. Built bridges in France and Germany. Married the USO piano player in Normandy. Returned home to start a business with his brother-in-law. Moved to Hollywood in 1952 to seek his fortune.

And there, ladies and gentlemen, there he found it.

For it was here, in Southern California, the Land of Dreams, that the fecund mind of Milton Levine conceived that Icon of American Modernity, that Symbol of Progress, the Eighth Wonder of the World:

Uncle Milton’s Ant Farm.

Try imagining our world without the Ant Farm. You can’t do it. X-Ray Glasses? Complete rip-off. Sea Monkeys? Useless brine. But the Ant Farm? It delivered what it promised: Ants. In a farm.

Imagine if, instead, Milton had gone with the original name: “Antarium”. Everything would have been different.

But Ant Farm it was, and Ant Farm it remains, and for that the world owes Milton Levine its gratitude. For if never there were an Ant Farm, never would there be an Ant Farm Keyboard. And a world without an Ant Farm Keyboard is not a world worth living for.

Milton Levine dies at 97; co-creator of popular ant farm toys [LAT, via Nerdist]

Proved way more useful and interesting than X-Ray Specs or Sea Monkeys.

Sometimes I wonder about this strange land in which I find myself.

There is no such thing as an ant farm keyboard! Much to my disappointment. Unless this is what you’re talking about, or this, but I don’t think Mr. Levine is responsible for either.

That being said, I was a deprived child and never had an ant farm. Woe is me!

Sea monkeys are “useless brine”? Tell that to my kids, who have been nurturing an aquarium of them for going on two months.

Oh yeah, and John Barry died, after he was born free.

@Nabisco: Also his memorable work on the Bond movies. Though he did not write the Bond theme. Pop quiz/no google: Who did write the Bond theme? (It’s the electric guitar ya-dada da da da da da da dadda da da da da, riff as the gun-sight follows him)

In other cultural notes: Joan Rivers’s ‘reality’ show is as hilarious as it is fake. (don’t judge)

Also: A Single Man. Saw it last night. Why is it all so fancy? Very disconcerting. I must know the wrong gay men. Or live on the wrong coast. Fancy fancy. Why does everyong keep telling Colin Firth he looks terrible? He looks fabulous. Love the suit. Ridiculous for the period and milieu but whatevs.

Yes, I am putting off getting to work. Thank you for asking.

@ManchuCandidate: Sure as shit those Sea Monkeys were borrring! And they didn’t look like this.

@Benedick: You’re not alone.

@karen marie has her eyes tight shut: Sure there is! It beat the Annihilatrix at some expo in Las Vegas. Clues:

I think it’s weird that you question me every time there’s a…thing.

Thanks for coming out everyone, but I gotta bang this waitress.

Pride is a fool’s fortress…Now who’s for Denny’s?

@Benedick: I thought Lalo Schifrin wrote it. Wrong. I learn so much here.

heard from my producers sister. they are staying. not leaving. hunkered down in their gated community surrounded by army troops. only worry is food. but they were able to restock yesterday.

@Capt Howdy: Glad she was able to get word out and that she was able to stock up on food. Thank you for the update, Howdy.

@karen marie has her eyes tight shut: Only one of the best cartoons ever. When I was a kid, I crushed on Speed Racer, Marine Boy and Spiderman. As an adult, it’s Xander. Awesome-X, not so much. If you like (IMHO) hilarious and smart animation for semi-grown ups, see if you can find Frisky Dingo videos. I didn’t think it would be possible, but at times like these, I miss my kid.

Robot Chicken and Harvey Birdman are good. Space Ghost Coast to Coast is classic. <– Ramones episode (check out the No Country for Old Men haircut).

I think you'd really dig Lucy, Daughter of the Devil. cassandra said turned me onto Lucy.


the report from these people is very different from the tv reports. they say it is an amazing thing to watch and have not, so far, felt terribly threatened. only worry is food.

@Capt Howdy: Good. I’m not thrilled that it’s being sensationalized for whatever reason though.

@JNOV: Best part about SGC2C

Each of the show’s interviews was videotaped separately, with the producers pumping the guests with off-the-wall questions like “Are you getting enough oxygen?” and “So what about your trousers?” The taped interview was then grafted onto the cartoon portion of the show, with Space Ghost (voiced by Atlanta radio personality George Lowe) ostensibly asking the questions. Most of the celebrities appearing on the series (notably Jim Carrey and Judy Tenuta) went along with the joke; others were clearly confused by the whole process, and a few were downright hostile and obscene

I feel asleep on the couch in like ’95, and I woke up to this show. I was like, Whoa. Am I high? I wish I could find clips where the guests lose their shit. Those were the best.

@Capt Howdy: OH!

Oh, and like I’m kinda employed now.

@Capt Howdy: Yeah, like maybe I can buy video games and travel and shit. And maybe pay for the child’s education. <— HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

@Mistress Cynica: Thank you, My Mistress! You doin’ okay?

@JNOV: I can’t find the clip of Shirley Manson from Garbage doing the Space Ghost show. Kirk from Metallica being pretty good and down with the format. I used to love the old cartoon with Jan and Jace and de mon-kee on broadcast television way back when. The Herculoids were another favorite of mine.

@redmanlaw: Speaking of music, I just discovered that NPR put together a stream of every song that’s ever appeared on All Songs Considered. OMG!

@mellbell: I saw TV on the Radio open for Peter Murphy and NIN (touring for With Teeth). I liked them a lot but they just disappeared after that.

@redmanlaw: They’ve got like a dozen side projects between the five of them, so that’s not surprising.

@redmanlaw: I was looking for Hetfield. I think he was on. Anybody but Lars! ;-) Adult Swim has that stuff on lockdown.

@mellbell: YAY!

@redmanlaw: Oh! Last night I saw the video where he (Murph) has those freaky blue eyes. A wise one wrote, “When worlds collide.” :-*

@JNOV: Lars had a cameo in “Get Him to the Greek.” It was pretty funny.

Actually, one reason I’m a huge Metallica fan is because they are funny, as shown in “A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica, Pt. 1 and 2.”

Metallica covering Overkill by Motorhead. This was pretty much the view I had last time I saw them, although the drums were further back. Video was shot a few months after I saw them in ABQ,


@redmanlaw: They are funny guys, and I do like Hetfield. Lars just pissed me off back in my Napster days. I don’t P2P anymore, and iTunes is awesome, but Lars came off (to me) as a douche. And I think he needs to change his name. LARZZZZ! I AM METAL! Pfft. And you know I like metal, right? I’m actually starting to appreciate country for chrissakes! What’s next? Jazz?

ADD: I gotta go do something real quick, but I’ll be back.

@redmanlaw: Enter Sandman. I’m whupped, but I wanted to leave you with this thought: Jr likes thrash, but we know brown kids don’t head bang, right? >:-/ In high school, he used to get a ration of shit about it, but he kept on rockin’. Keep on rockin’, RML, even when I tease you. Have a good night. :-)

@JNOV: Fuuuuh . . . you should go to a metal show in ABQ. It’s about 80 percent Indians and Hispanics, with some hard looking people straight outta the Navajo Nation and the Pueblos. I see guys older than me with their whole families at shows, rez teens in full blown goth wear, and big fat dudes who would look at home in front of the fry bread stand at a pow wow.

BTW, I listened to The Black Album so much in the early 90s I can’t listen to it anymore. I don’t even have it on CD. Last three CDs I bought (last two weeks): Black Sabbath Vol 4, Best of Type O Negative and Neil Young’s American Stars and Bars. I’d also just picked up the first Black Sabbath CD (the one before Paranoid, which was their second album).

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