Friday, March 23, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

500 "Lost" Fairytales Discovered -- Countless New Band Names to Come

A volume of notes and writings by Bavarian historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth has revealed a bounty of forgotten or otherwise unknown fairytales from Europe.

Schönwerth, a contemporary of the Grimm brothers, collected numerous tales that are either distinct variants on existing stories, or entirely new stories with titles such as "King Golden Hair" and "The Turnip Princess." And perhaps this description of what might be our favorite: "the tale of a maiden who escapes a witch by transforming herself into a pond."

Psychedelic, metal and hip-hop musicians: Please start scooping these up for band names, album/song titles, MC monikers, and rich source material for lyrics and concept records. It's imperative you do this soon before the next generation of Decembrists knock-offs gets a hold of it.

The Guardian has more details about this incredible find.

[tip o' the wizard cap to The Fortean Times]

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spoiler Alert!

Wanna watch the first four minutes of the "Nazis fled Earth after WWII and settled on the dark side of the Moon and are launching an invasion of Earth in 2018" movie Iron Sky?

Yes you do:

The film began production in 2006, and much of the funding was done via the new-ish business model for filmmakers: seeking financing via the Web.

As a result of that long, open-source-type production, they've had time to alter the script to include a character clearly meant to be Sarah Palin. No, she's not one of the invading Moon SS, she's the U.S. president. It's an obvious/dated joke made fresh by the lunar lander banner reading "Yes She Can!"

Will Iron Sky make Palin a cinematic heroine? Or will space Nazis win? I bet the screenwriters wish they had time to include Newt Gingrich, who Palin endorses.

Enough. It's a black comedy involving helium-3 mines, space-traveling zeppelins, and creepy Aryan youth barking "We come in peace!" Iron Sky even has Udo Kier. How can this not be excellent, even if it's terrible?

See the theatrical trailer here.

[Thanks again to Bleeding Cool.]

Friday, March 9, 2012

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Monkey Love: Science Monster

One of the first Websites we linked to after the launch of The Typing Monkey was the magnificent Science Monster.

As Ray Bolger sang in the Scotch Buy jingle:  "'Tain't fancy but it sure is good."

If you go to the site it seems so low-tech, positively Unix. That's because chief Monster Scientist, Mark Assaf, didn't waste time making a site that's fun to look at. He focused his effort on filling Science Monster with links to download-ready public domain movies, old radio shows and even some music.

Need to watch the 1958 black and white goof Teenage Zombies right now? Done, son.  [It's a "horror" film so tame it plays as if it was funded by the Lutheran Church. -- ed.] And yes, Assaf is selling a fair bit of his catalog too -- 16 mm prints if you're into that sort of thing.

Assaf says his download content, the films especially, are ideal for those bored days at work when there's little else to do but watch a rickety old monster movie compressed and digitized to fit on either a portable device or a small video window on your PC. Don't get fired on our account.

Thank Science Monster, not us. He's doing the Lord's work.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Oggling the Classics

Penguin Classics, a line of classic literature traditionally published as paperbacks with useful notes for the student, have been redesigning their cover artwork for a few years as part of the "Graphics Deluxe" editions.

Paul Buckley directs the art on these new printings and has been employing some of the best contemporary graphic novel artists and modern illustrators.

Many make the odd choice of putting text or dialogue from the novel on the cover, as is the case with Joe Sacco's treatment for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey. It's hard to believe such a busy cover would outlast the simpler aesthetic of a previous version, but then the point of these is to create collector's items.

The more traditional, leaner, cleaner art work best not only as design, but as eye catching art. Seth's work for The Portable Dorothy Parker is great, as is the lithograph look of Tomer Hanuka's NSFW cover of De Sade's Philosophy in the Boudoir.

One exception to the text-heavy look is Tom MacDonald's cover for a collection of Greek mythology retold by Robert Graves. MacDonald makes it look like a Golden Age comic book, and thanks to the nature of the material, it's a perfect match. Check out the wrap-around view to get the full effect.

And speaking of wrap-arounds, Rachel Sumpter actually embroidered a few covers, doing a dense mess of color and texture for The Wizard of Oz, and an impressionistic mural for Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows -- both worth studying.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Farewell to Ralph McQuarrie

Artist and illustrator Ralph McQuarrie died March 3. He was 82.

If his name isn't automatically familiar, then you were never a Star Wars fanatic. But for those who can instantly recall seeing McQuarrie's concept and production art for the first three Star Wars films -- and you know which three we mean -- you'll understand why so many nerds seem more despondent than usual.

We agree strongly with Bleeding Cool writer Brendon Connelly's sentiment regarding McQuarrie's work:

"Some of the designs in the first three Star Wars films are honestly amazing work. The man we have to thank for this is Ralph McQuarrie, the concept artist who really set the tone for the film, much more so than any other individual. And I’m including George Lucas in that ... I’m not being disingenuous when I say that I love these paintings far more than the films they fuelled."

McQuarrie's concept art for Star Wars, before there was any hint of a sequel, let alone a franchise, reach a level of wonder and fantasy that the films could never have matched. His paintings and sketches do exactly what good art and great illustration should: immerse you in someone else's imagination. The lure of the art pulls so strong that you add to it your own tangents and meanings.

His Metropolis-style C-3PO and gear-covered Luke Skywalker reveal much about McQuarrie's understanding of George Lucas' inspiration and references. The hardware looks antiquated, the textures dusty and worn, exactly the type of lived-in universe that makes it seem possible.

Check out the various galleries on the Ralph McQuarrie Website and see the work he did for other films, his book covers, and his personal gallery. Just as Frank Frazetta will forever be linked to Conan the Barbarian, McQuarrie will always be the Star Wars design guy. A fine legacy for sure, but do take a look at what else he achieved.

Friday, March 2, 2012

We'll be right back after these messages ...

It's 1984 and you're Paul Weller. You've disbanded The Jam and have begun the continental-pop/blue-eyed-soul phase of your career by forming The Style Council.

So you make a video to promote The Style Council single "My Ever Changing Moods" and well, this ought to do: