Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Blue Moon on Dec 31, 2009

While humanity toasts to another year gone and a new year about to arrive, the Earth's moon will be full for the second time in December. Per popular parlance, that's a blue moon. And it can mean any number of things either good or bad depending on which folklore you believe.

Please make a note of it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Good Bye, Arnold Stang

The acting world hosts a limited number of reliable "oh that guy!" [OTG] actors. So the death of one of the titans of OTG work, Arnold Stang, stings particularly hard. Stang was the epitome of OTG quality: instantly recognizable, reliably funny and able to make a decent living by capitalizing on his uncommon looks, voice and talent. Stang died on Dec 20, 2009. He was 91.

Any old jerk can be an action hero, kittenish ingenue or classy leading lady. But the women and men classified as "OTG" actors are essential by bringing a touch of vaudeville and silent film exaggeration to modern film and television. They look like people you may actually know, but excel at performing a (usually comedic) grotesque kind of hyper-reality. 

OTG actors play wacky neighbors in sit-coms, greasy sidekicks, service workers who take their jobs too seriously, or any other supporting but genuinely memorable role -- despite the fact that the general public has trouble remembering OTG actors' names.

Stang, a veteran of radio comedy, transitioned to film and television, showing off his dramatic chops as Frank Sinatra's loyal friend in The Man with the Golden Arm:

Recognize that voice? You should. Stang was the title character in Hanna Barbera's Sgt. Bilko knock-off, Top Cat.

Raise a glass to Arnold Stang this week.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Frazetta Family Squabbles Over Papa Frank's Artwork

Legendary illustrator Frank Frazetta -- best known for his fantasy/sci-fi/action paintings and comic book art of Conan the Barbarian and similar fare -- may or may not have given his eldest son, Frank Jr., permission to secure dozens of original paintings from the Frazetta Museum adjacent to Frazetta's home in rural Massachusetts.

And by "secure" we mean steal with a backhoe.

The Beat, a comics blog from Publisher's Weekly, has all the details and bizarre updates.

As a more immediately digestible but no less sad footnote: This all comes less than six months after the death of Frank's wife Ellie, by all accounts a kind woman who inspired and urged her husband on to greater success. Perhaps it's best she's not around to see her family behaving so poorly.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"See you tomorrow"

Monty Stark of Stark Reality died on Thanksgiving Day, Nov 26, 2009. This was news to us. Perhaps it's news to you.

Learn all you need to know about him via his obituary on the Stones Throw label Website.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Club MySpace: 2009 Year-End Edition, part I

While other media outlets neatly compile all the albums, bands and songs they've loved throughout the year, The Typing Monkey has realized that we missed quite a bit of music during the past 11 months. Part of the problem is our consummate laziness in making our marginally regular column, Club Myspace, marginally regular.

So in an effort to chew all our cabbage at once, we present an all "What Did We Miss?" themed entry of Club MySpace. There will be at least one more of these before the year is over, three if we can manage it. So laugh an point as you scroll through, we'll ignore you and revel in the discoveries we've made as we played catch up with the year that was.

Sweet relief. A New York band that's not trying to be something "other" and instead succeeds brilliantly at being a rock band. A quartet of young men playing rough-edged pop that is unapologetically fun and catchy.

The Delfields
This New Jersey trio will draw comparisons to The Shins, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's the vocals primarily. But their pure pop (guitars, bass, drums, cheap-plastic keyboards) excavates pleasant memories of The Housemartins and The Connells -- lovely.

Mungolian Jetset
Helmed by two Norwegian DJs, this collective's work has been around for several years, only recently compiled into a two-disc set from the Smalltown Supersound label. They craft psychedelic murals of electronics, percussion and the odd divergence into guitar territory. It's an ideal headphone voyage for fans of KLF, The Orb and similar fare.

Crazy, messed-up melodies sung in a nearly disengaged alto. It's like two 78 rpm records found in an antique store, playing simultaneously. Some folks presume electronic music from Germany is weird crap for art students and this is why. If Niobe doesn't tickle your brain, you are one of those presumptuous folk. We'll listen for you.

The Penelope[s]
Likewise, French electronic musicians take a lot of abuse for crafting club-oriented disco for coke-whiffing snobs. With that in mind, this duo makes strange electronic pop with good no-wave bass and guitar. Would it sound good pumping from the soundsystem of a sweaty discotheque? Mais, oui.

We can't possibly keep up with techno. Nobody can. But when the form is handled this well, The Typing Monkey pays attention. The cold, disorienting sounds match nicely to the horror theme Voodeux uses -- mood, not sound effects. An American duo flexing solid genre muscles on both sides of the equation.

Wild Beasts
That voice! Hymn-like, methodical pop from a UK quartet that understands dynamics should be rendered in shades of gray, not strictly black and white.


Drums of Death
If this special edition of Club MySpace had a "Get Drinks" section, Drums of Death would be in it. We include the skull-faced electroclash/hip-hop fellow because we want to make sure you understand he's not a high-concept comedy record, even though you'd be forgiven for thinking the "Got Yr Thing" video was a Lonely Island/SNL digital short.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Visibly Frenzied

It must be noted that Dr. Fred Beldinstein now operates out of an Arbor called Ann. He's painstakingly restored and reassembled his lab there and has resumed posting to his video blog Frenzy of the Visible. There he lets all his personal demons run free in the form of YouTube, Hulu and other online video files.

Need to see the preview of the Mexican vampire movie The Genie of Darkness? Crave some vintage concert footage of Venom? Done and done. At FotV Dr. Beldinstein posts educational films, forgotten cartoons, punk videos, schlock horror films and clips that defy easy classification.

He finds them so that you don't have to waste time looking for entertainment you didn't know you needed. We suggest you click on over there post haste.