Thursday, April 26, 2012

What He Said

AV Club writer Keith Phipps' latest entry for his "Secret Cinema" column details the joys and faults of Goeorge A. Romero's film Season of the Witch. In case you're not an employee at The Typing Monkey, you may not know that we've waxed rhapsodic about this film before.

And much like Joe Bob Briggs' wonderful examination of why The Creature from the Black Lagoon is so good, Phipps' essay on Witch sums up our feelings about the movie almost exactly.

Give it a read and allow us to sit back and smugly stroke our chins. Then see it if you haven't.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Cartoons Can Be Funny

In March 2012, Cartoon Network debuted it's programming block called DC Nation. It's various animated series based on characters from the DC universe, to varying degrees of engagement for grown-ups who are willing to spend time watching this sort of thing. (Or, you know, want to.)

The real joy of tuning in to DC Nation's programming is that each Saturday they debut two new short 'toons from a group of creators who forgo any heroic posturing for the characters and instead aim for comedy. And they're all pretty funny.

The two stand-outs are Lauren Faust's Super Best Friends Forever, starring Wonder Girl, Batgirl and Supergirl doing things that we'd all do if we were them.

And Aardman Studios gives Superman, Batman, Catwoman and The Joker the Creature Comforts treatment by having them voiced by little kids saying things wholly unrelated to the business of crime fighting. DC World's Funniest is delightful.

Tune in for some of the other shorts, but do scour the Web for more of the DC World's Funniest shorts and, you lucky dog, io9 has all of Faust's Super BFF work up for your entertainment.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Inscrutable Charm of "Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files"

In 2010, the Syfy network premiered a reality program that combined the nerds-blowing-stuff-up charm of Discovery's Mythbusters with the ludicrous phantom chasing of the network's own Ghosthunters.

Fact of Faked: Paranormal Files is reality television at it's best and worst -- both illuminating and frustratingly stagy and convinced of it's own authenticity. It's also supremely addictive to viewers willing to let go and enjoy the show's Law & Order-esque predictability.

The premise of Fact of Faked is simple: Six experts in disparate fields team up to investigate allegedly supernatural events caught on film, with the goal of trying to recreate those events and thus expose them as hoaxes.

That's where the Mythbusters angle plays in. In each episode, the cast members/investigators split into two teams, with each taking apart the details of footage they've screened, and attempting to reverse engineer what they've seen.

Many viewers probably disregard the major message of Fact or Faked. That is: Just about every alleged sighting of a cryptid, UFO or supernatural apparition is either an accidental misidentification of something horribly mundane, or a big fat fake. And those fakes look surprisingly easy to construct based on what the stars of the show manage to pull off with average resources.

To sate those viewers, and because this is a product of the Syfy network, the showrunners frequently add a third act to each segment in which the teams consider the possibility that the footage or pictures they're scrutinizing depict actual supernatural occurrences.

That portion of the investigation is posited as a control aspect to their experiments, but really it's a way to fill a few minutes with unnecessarily amped-up tension that rarely results in anything notable.

As soon as they switch to night-vision -- Fact or Faked's shorthand for spooky time -- is when any sliver of legitimacy disappears. All they ever get out of the control test is an agreement that those who recorded the video believe they saw something extraordinary.

Fact or Faked does much better when, in those instances where they've made clear that the footage was a hoax, they confront those responsible and try to get them to admit the hornswoggling. It's never mean spirited or hammy. These "c'mon dude" moments instead come off like a school teacher trying to elicit a confession from the kid who made fart noises during a math test.

That the six people cast in this show do it all with such conviction is enough of a hook. Theirs is a universe where irony doesn't exist and the kooks get as much airtime as the sane. Why not?

The first episode of season three airs April 17, 2012. Older episodes are online via

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Can We Stay at Grandma's?

Perhaps you've heard of Darlene Mayes, the so-called "Ganja Granny." According to news reports, the 73-year-old ran a four-state marijuana distribution operation from her rural Oklahoma home. And in case it's unclear, what she did is monumentally illegal.

Thing is, stories like Mayes' are becoming about as common as dime bags at a Foghat show.

A simple Web search on "ganja granny" turns up three other senior women who've earned the title. And the past five-plus years have seen news stories about elderly citizens in the United States turning to dealing controlled substances, frequently to simply pay the bills, but sometimes because they use the product -- most often marijuana -- themselves.

While the reports of Mayes' case don't specify if she was a smoker, there was paraphernalia in her home. However that's not really why we post this story.

The take-away for all of us at The Typing Monkey has been the big bag of questions and considerations the Ganja Granny case provokes.

There are multiple reports that as Baby Boomers age, they're turning toward controlled substances they may've enjoyed during their youth. Pain pills are common, yes, but marijuana use among their demographic is on the rise.

And having enough money to live a reasonable life after retirement age is a growing concern as well. There are only so many senior citizens willing and able to serve up smiles and fast food. Clearly the pot trade doesn't discriminate based on age.

Will Boomers final er, contribution to our culture be a push for the legalization of marijuana? Their numbers are legion and if past generations are any indication, soon they'll have nothing but time and the feisty anger of the old.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

What Time Is It?

The March 12, 2012 issue of The New Yorker contains a feature on artist Christian Marclay's incredible video montage project "The Clock." The creation of the work took three years of modified crowd-sourcing of films, editing, editing, and more editing and one moment of brilliant inspiration.

That inspiration: What if there was a film made of existing footage depicting clocks, edited in such a way that the film unspools in real time for a full 24 hours?

If you live in one of the five lucky cities to have hosted this work, The Typing Monkey envies you. Read the whole story here, and watch this bootleg-ish video clip of three minutes worth of the film:

[Courtesy of HLGFilms]