Thursday, March 24, 2011

More Good Grief

This image may be a screen-capture from a new Peanuts cartoon called Happiness Is a Warm Blanket. We didn't bother to research that anymore than we bothered to figure out how to embed an animated .gif onto the page. That's right, this picture moves if you click here.

There's a similarly stark image of Linus, probably from the same 'toon, that is also an animated loop. And the second picture contains even more hopelessness than the first. Perhaps it's the sunset (or sunrise?) that keeps the above image from turning into an  Andrew Wyeth painting. We lift both of these images to the same level as Wyeth's "Christina's World."

[Hat tip to FuckYeahAnimation]

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

From the Sports Desk: March Silliness

Not one Typing Monkey staffer pays attention to NCAA basketball. None of us could even be considered casual sports fans. Sure we know who's playing the Super Bowl each year and we like to watch a boxing match from time to time, but professional sports, let alone college-level, are not on our radar.

It's just not a thing here.

Holly Allen and Josh Levin's "Let's Go Blue Team!" article from Slate, and the accompanying 2011 NCAA Tournament brackets, are for those of us who have no idea what teams matter on the road to the Final Four.

In a nutshell, they've created NCAA brackets but instead of listing it by the school names, they've provided one based purely on mascots/logos and another even more abstract bracket based on team colors.

Here's an example of some of the face-offs:

Let's not mince words -- that bear is going to destroy the Trojan warrior. The bear is smiling at the thought of tasty man-flesh. And I'm sorry Hamburglar, but that alligator will munch you like regular-size fries. Maybe after that the bear and alligator can just be friends and maybe open a detective agency.

Hurry and fill yours out so we can compare notes and then forget to pay attention to the actual outcomes of the games.

Monday, March 14, 2011

"No point in running'"

... or Look What Dr. Fred Did

We are obligated to like things that our friends and family create. Knowing the artist behind a work of art makes us more likely to say "yes" to something we wouldn't normally seek out or pay close attention to.

Reader you have been there: A friend gets a gallery opening, publishes some writing, the band they're in plays a show, a dance recital. Love and pride and sometimes a desire not to wound makes us embrace the the effort if not the result and sometimes that's more important.

And then there are those rare instances when the result is good and worth sharing and talking about, not because you know the creator but because you know the creation.

The Typing Monkey enjoys a fair amount of kismet when it comes to talented family, friends and associates. We knew Dr. Fred Beldenstein's songwriting stirred at smoldering coals of heart-damaged music, and his previous efforts climbed closer and closer to that glow.

With his new-ish band The Great Tribulation, Dr. Fred has reached the light via his song "Sure As the Rain." It's a comforting bit of musical reassurance and understanding that these are, to crib a line from Jon Stewart, hard times, not end times. [How ya like that, Fred? -- ed.]

Singer Jeni Lee Richey doesn't sell the lyric so much as offer it because she understands that we need it. The voice, the words, the syrup of the slide guitar all reach out and pull you into an oddly personal shelter before Dr. Fred's quiet-storm guitar opens up and gushes. They call it "folk noir" and "dark country" -- sure. American to the core and as honest as a pair of dirty hands.

Go to the band's Facebook page and scroll down to the entries for Feb 23 to hear "Sure as the Rain" and visit their Reverb Nation page to hear more from The Great Tribulation.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Oh, Joe

Too many just-below-the-radar entertainers who shaped mid- and late-20th century art and media have been dying. [No Tura Satana obit? -- ed.] The Typing Monkey could fill this blog weekly with sad farewells to the dearly departed. Nobody wants that.

But we can't not acknowledge the passing of drummer Joe Morello, the man who kept time for The Dave Brubeck Quartet. And to say he "played drums" ... oh hell just look, around 2:30 the madness begins:

[courtesy of Cheeseford]

Devotees of more avant garde jazz frequently dismiss Dave Brubeck's band for reasons beyond our comprehension. Shakespeare was a pop artist too, friends. Fact is, DBQ were four top-shelf players and Morello was, arguably, the best of the four.

He was 82 when he died on March 12,2011.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Free Music: Keepaway

As of this writing, the Brooklyn-based trio Keepaway is putting the finishing touches on a debut LP. In 2009 they self-released an EP, Baby Style, announcing their presence with joyous pop bursting with bright synthesizers, sampled voices and noises and perucssion -- lots of percussion that clatters and falls into place just so.

This past November they released a second EP, Kompetitor on Lefse records. The second EP stacks even more summer-drunk fun onto the pile. Opener "100", with it's reggae-guitar and beats that sound like they escaped from a drum circle, could be a stew of urban-bohemian bullshit, especially with the line "I just hope you think of me when you get high" repeated a few times throughout.

However, there's real longing in the just-out-range vocal and the warble of the canned strings. The echo effects makes it feel a bit like a memory. Don't get us wrong, it's still playful and feels almost improvised. And though there are probably plenty of more current references, for some reason "100" makes us think of the "hey, we just fell into this song" attitude of The Tremeloes' "Here Comes My Baby."

The other three cuts are just as good and with two remixes of "100" included (DJ Seashell's ambient take being a total deconstruction) Kompetitor makes for a good springtime pick-me-up. Grab the EP at Keepaway's Bandcamp site for the low price of your e-mail address and then fork over some cash for the forthcoming LP. Thanks, Keepaway!