Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Here Comes Mr. Jones

We were going to post something about Leap Day because why not? Then the news broke that Davy Jones died of an apparent heart attack. The singer and member of The Monkees was 66.

Arguably, Mickey Dolenz was the more appropriate lead singer in that his unusual voice and his delivery seemed to come more from a rock & roll place -- that slight touch of rhythm and blues that makes the music fun.

But Jones was no slouch even if his inclusion in the prefab four implies that he was there to add British Invasion appeal since that's what the teenage girls were into when The Monkees was conceived for televison. His stage-trained voice was the smoothest of The Monkees and well suited to the slicker, pop-oriented hits.

In a June 29, 2011 radio interview on Seattle's KJR, Jones was doing PR for a Monkees reunion tour (minus Mike Nesmith). Though the tour would end abruptly, Jones seemed centered and at peace with his past during the interview.  [Listen here: Jones' portion begins just past the halfway mark.]

Here he is singing lead on The Monkees' "Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)"

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How Long the Teenage?

Alison Gopnik's Wall Street Journal article "What's Wrong With the Teenage Mind?" was published a month ago, but you should still read it.

The piece touches on numerous recent research in developmental psychology, neuroscience, and other cognitive studies that indicate an increase in the length of human adolescence. That is, puberty starts earlier and adulthood arrives slower than your bus.

Gopnik's piece isn't a unified theory of why 30-year-olds still live with their parents, but she makes an interesting case for a gradual shift in our culture that has triggered a shift in our brains.

[A sincere shrug and heartfelt "whatever" to Arts & Letters Daily]

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Another Use for Books

"Brian Dettmer is known for his detailed and innovative sculptures with books and other forms of antiquated media."

That's directly from the artist's bio on his Website. The work is amazing and Dettmer's skill, vision and creativity astounds. Still, it hurts us just a little when books are referred to as antiquated media. Don't worry books, The Typing Monkey still loves you.

[A salute to Andrew Monko for sending us this link, which led too Mr. Dettmer's site.]

Friday, February 17, 2012

29 Days Every Four Years

Last night we had the pleasure of discovering, via the miracle of channel surfing, a really good documentary from PBS's Independent Lens series.

More Than a Month charts the year-long journey of "Shukree Hassan Tilghman, a 29-year-old African American filmmaker ... on a cross-country campaign to end Black History Month"

The film explores all manner of ideas about what our alleged "post-racial" life in modern America means and doesn't mean. Tilghman's analytical and even self-critical approach is ideal for triggering conversation afterwards. Or you can just ask questions directly to the screen. Chances are it won't answer.

Watch the whole thing free online here.

Monday, February 13, 2012

You Had Us at 'Herculoids'

An imaginary comic book cover by Daniel HDR:

We agree with Bleeding Cool, where we found the link. How do we make this happen?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

And a Foot Massage Too (Socks Optional)

Today we realized that it's been four years since The Typing Monkey began -- as of Jan 21. So that's two years in a row we forgot our own damn anniversary.

Thank you for reading. We wish we could take each and every one of you home with us, make you a nice dinner, put on a Boz Scaggs record, maybe have a drink or two and listen while you tell us about your day. Then you can fall asleep on the couch while we watch disc two of the Ernie Kovacs DVD box set.

Anyway, hooray for four years of blogging! Here's a YouTube video of "Clap Your Hands, Stomp Your Feet" by Dutch glam-rockers Bonnie St. Claire & Unit Gloria:

[courtesy of unitgloria, natch -- brought to our attention by K.P.]

Frankie Say: Mindless Rampage

Frankensteinia: The Frankenstein Blog. Must we explain futher? Yes, yes, nerd Frankenstein was the mad scientist's name, not the monster's. But in all fairness to popular perception, the monster IS Frankenstein. Just ask any kid. Then calm down and read this fantastic blog.

And if all that historical, cultural and sociological investigation into Frankenstein sets your brain ablaze, cool down at Frankensteinia's sister sites, Frankenstein Forever and Monster Crazy, Tumblr sites with page after glorious page of Frankensteins and other horrifying beasties, respectively.

[Image courtesy Frankensteinia]

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Oh Snaps!

Food writing may be the most elusive of all critical skills in the world of journalism. Which is one of the primary reasons we rarely talk about edible goods here. But The Typing Monkey understands the value (and power) of a good snack and must share certain discoveries with our audience.

Today we encourage you to seek out Loucks Dark Chocolate Sesame Snaps, for they are delicious.

The Polish company's "plain" Sesame Snaps are perfectly yummy in their own way, and easy to come by. The basic Sesame Snap is a little wafer of toasted sesame seeds held together by sugar. They are simple and addictive.

For some odd reason the plain variety are usually stocked with the Asian foods in the grocery store, though a few shops have it right by putting them with the candy. Which is where you might take a moment to see if the store carries the harder-to-find Dark Chocolate variety.

As astute readers may have deduced, the Dark Chocolate Sesame Snaps employ dairy-free chocolate to enhance the snackery magic. The wafers are not coated or covered in chocolate. Oh no, friends. The chocolate appears as three diagonal stripes, as elegant as if they had evolved onto this exotic creature.

If you can't find Dark Chocolate Sesame Snaps locally, the Web indicates that they can be purchased and shipped to just about anywhere you might ship such things. Enjoy.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Time for Comics

Let us break up the long sad string of obituaries we've been documenting and mourning here and move on to something much lighter: free comic books.

The Digital Comics Museum is a great place to spend time getting lost in the public domain world of vintage comic books.

You don't have to love superhero tales, as the world of mainstream comics prior to the 1960s hosted any number of topics having little or nothing to do with boy scouts from other planets or deranged millionaires deciding to rid their cities of crime.

There are plenty of hero titles, but some are war stories or Old West glories. Horror and suspense/mystery titles abound, as well as quite a few jungle-adventure serials.

Other titles embrace the "comics" aspect in the traditional Sunday comics sense, where the punchline and the sight gag rule.

The romance titles from publishers such as Charlton, Prize and Ace can be quite fun too. Some dare to document genuine romantic problems facing women and men, others go scandalous and some, as in issue 70 of "Young Romance" from Prize go the romance novel route.

And the previously mentioned Charlton Comics hosted a number of now legendary artists and writers at a time when they were just trying to get started in the industry. The cover of Charlton's "The Thing!"  (issue 14) was done by Steve Ditko before he was Steve Ditko. [What? -- ed.]

Either way, you get an army of grotesque bat-men attacking terrified humans as a group of ancient Egyptians give chase. Neat!

Dig in and have fun. It's free.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Footnote, Perhaps

Playing Farrah Fawcett to Don Cornelius' Michael Jackson, singer Leslie Carter died Jan 31, 2012. Carter was 25, and the sister of more famous singing brothers Nick (of Backstreet Boys) and Aaron.

The Typing Monkey generally avoids reality television, especially those centered around former celebrities grasping at thin threads of attention. So we barely noticed the short lived House of Carters from 2006, though the few minutes we chanced upon made us sad and ashamed -- more for her brothers than Leslie herself, who seemed uncomfortable with the very idea.

We rooted for Leslie Carter to rise above it and get out from under her brothers' shadows, primarily because her 2001 single "Like Wow!" is such a fine piece of bubblegum pop. If Wikipedia is to be believed, Ms. Carter attempted to relaunch herself based on more mature rock-oriented music as the leader of a band called The  Other Half. She even got married and had a baby in 2011.

The cause of her death is unreported at the time of this post. If "Like Wow!" is all she left to the world of pop music, so be it. We'll take it.

A Final Stop on the Hippest Trip

Don Cornelius died today, Feb 1 2012. All signs point to a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. Per our usual policy, we'll point you toward The AV Club's obituary.

Whatever led Cornelius to alleged suicide, he leaves a terrific legacy as the man who not only brought soul, funk and awesome good times into millions of living rooms across the United States via Soul Train, but as a skilled promoter of hip, positive images of young black America.

Soul Train presented a great party on the surface, one any kid with access to a television could join, at least vicariously. Soul Train also functioned as a stealth form of cultural ambassadorship. Cornelius helped break new acts on the show, famously ignored the color barrier by hosting white performers including David Bowie, and even gritted his teeth to embrace rap despite not being a fan.

Most importantly, Soul Train was an undeniable success on its own terms, a feat unlikely in our modern niche-marketed and overly studied demographic entertainment landscape.

If you haven't seen VH1's 90-minute documentary on Don Cornelius and the impact of Soul Train, you can watch it online here. It's very much worth your time.