Thursday, January 31, 2013

Notable Illusionists of History [No. 4]

Collect 'em all!

Douglas James "Doug" Henning

(May 3, 1947 - Feb 7, 2000)
Birthplace:  Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Profession-changing contribution: Henning's massive popularity (Tony-winning Broadway show, Emmy-nominated television specials) during the 1970s re-popularized magic as a form of entertainment. Part of Henning's appeal was that he eschewed the top-hat look, instead wearing t-shirts and bell-bottom pants, with long hair and an attitude of wonder about his own tricks.
Fun fact:  In 1987, Henning quit magic to study Transcendental Meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and even ran for political office in the UK and his native Canada, as a candidate for the Natural Law Party, a group founded on the faith's prinicples.
Bonus fun fact: Should you have the opportunity to visit The Magic Castle in Los Angeles and need to order a vegan meal, ask for the "Doug Henning."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Look! Quick, Before It's Gone

Should you see this post on or before Jan 27, 2013, you'll probably be able to open the page linking to the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibiton Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop.

The exhibit's been up since Oct 11, 2012 but we only learned of it's existence a couple weeks ago and didn't think to see if the Met posted every image from the exhibition on their website. What fools we are. The Met is awesome, so of course the entire exhibit is online.

As the title implies, the photos show how manipulating photographs evolved concomitant to the art of photography itself. From touch ups, to double exposures, coloring, and out-and-out trickery, the images show how creative we can be when given a new medium that feels limitless but actually puts quite a few borders around production.

Of course, those borders can be pushed as far as possible and then further still. Here are a few of our favorites:

Le simulateur; Dora Maar (French, Paris 1907–1997 Paris) Date: 1936

Soft Landing; Oliver Wasow (American, born 1960) Date: 1987

And because we try to keep The Typing Monkey safe for work, here are links to Woman in Champagne Glass by Howard S. Redell and Woman Riding Moth (Unknown). [Hint: They're naked! But it's just regular naked, not freak out your co-workers naked.]
Click here to see the gallery set up to 60 images per page, which whittles it down to just four pages. Have fun.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Greta's Stacks of Wax

Writer/director/producer Allison Anders went to an auction where the items sold were once the personal belongings of legendary actor Greta Garbo. She bid on, and won, Garbo's record collection.

Anders did the smart thing: She started a blog about it. She plays a record and talks about the record. It's elegant and fun.

Go there now and read it.

Everybody In His Own Bag

What's the lifespan of the average vanity blog? At what point to those involved get bored, distracted or otherwise pull away? Jan 21, 2013 was The Typing Monkey's 5th anniversary.

We were greeted that morning by a note left on the door of S.L. Kreighton's office. He'd decided to buy back his typewriter from the pawn shop, purchase a case of Barbados rum, and rent an a-frame cabin on the Olympic Peninsula so he could write his memoirs.

So we're left aboard the ship without a captain. Typing Monkey Int'l, the eastern syndicate that owns Typing Monkey Industries, and by extension, this publication, alerted the staff that funding will stop and that they're leasing our offices in February.

Kris, the janitor, has agreed to take over the site, but says he's not sure how often he'll be posting new content. We all had a laugh at the notion of "content" given the past year or so has seen The Typing Monkey become a repository for cool things the staff found around the Web before knocking off early to hit the bar.

We have a few more "Notable Illusionists of History" to share with you, and will probably have other things to say before things slow down. And of course, if the janitor feels the spark of inspiration, there may be more to come. Regardless, we all have him on speed dial, should any of us need to publish some writing we think is Monkey appropriate.

Otherwise, we think you'll enjoy this live recording of Sammy Davis Jr. and Buddy Rich in Las Vegas performing "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone" from the LP The Sounds of '66:

[courtesy of Milton Page]

If Sammy's sock-o delivery and gospel asides don't move you, Leon Redbone does a great rendition that sounds like a nearly empty bottle of champagne in the morning-after sunlight, if bottles of bubbly could sing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Notable Illusionists of History [No. 3]

Collect 'em all!

Editor's note: Due to the rousing success of the "Sexy Astronomers of History" series in September 2012, The Typing Monkey has followed Hollywood's lead by offering a sequel nobody asked for. Enjoy.

Alexander Hermann aka Hermann the Great
(Feb 10, 1844 - Dec 17, 1896)

Birthplace: Paris Profession-changing contribution:  Herrmann capitalized on his Mephistophelian appearance and openly comedic performance to build his following. His performances were as much about the humor as they were about his illusions, sleight-of-hand tricks and road-tested magic. As a result, he was a favorite of the American public at the height of the Victorian era.
Fun fact: Herrmann was the youngest of 16 children. His father, Samuel, was a physician who dabbled in magic performance. The eldest son, Compars (aka Carl), became a famous magician in Europe and, upon seeing Alexander's natural skill "kidnapped" his 8-year-old brother, taking him on tour with him throughout Russia, while the family fretted back in France. The brothers performed as a duo for many years before Alex went solo.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Notable Illusionists of History [No. 2]

Collect 'em all!

Harry Blackstone Sr. aka The Great Blackstone (born Harry Bouton)
(Sep 27, 1885 - Nov 16, 1965)
Birthplace:  Chicago
Profession-changing contribution:  The first (or at least best-known) multi-media star of magic. At the height of his career as a stage illusionist, Blackstone was also the star of a comic book, and the inspiration for the radio mystery-drama Blackstone, the Magic Detective.
Fun fact:  Blackstone usually performed without talking, while the theater orchestra or pipe organ played carefully selected tunes to accompany his illusions.

The Tinkelman Terrors

Monster Brains does it again (and again and again ...) with a Jan 8 posting of various covers and interior illustrations Murray Tinkelman did for H.P. Lovecraft (and Lovecraft-inspired) stories.

[Interior illustration -- duplicated on cover -- for "The Mask of Cthulhu" by August Derleth]

The cheerless cold and soggy dark of January is as good a time as any to read some Lovecraft. The Typing Monkey's only cracked one of his tales, and that was before the Clinton administration.

Just as we finally paid proper attention this past summer to Ray Bradbury, Howard Phillips Lovecraft is on the docket, via a lauded collection of shorts and novellas curated by Joyce Carol Oates. We're already scared.

With these Tinkelman works to inspire our eyes, the anticipation mounts. See more of Tinkelman's work here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Notable Illusionists of History [No. 1]

Collect 'em all!

Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin
(Dec 6, 1805 – June 13, 1871)
Birthplace: Blois, France
Profession-changing contribution:  Considered the father of modern magic, Robert-Houdin was one of the first illusionists to work in a theater rather than set up in a marketplace or at a fair. And he wore formal wear -- what we now think of as the classic magician's attire -- to distinguish himself from other magicians. He also helped quell a potential rebellion of the Arabs in Algeria, who were being riled into action by local shamen. Napoleon III sent Robert-Houdin to Algeria in 1856 to out-perform the shamen, which he did.
Fun fact:  After a failed attempt to learn law, Robert-Houdin became a watchmaking apprentice to follow in his father's footsteps. A bookseller, thinking he was giving Robert-Houdin two books on clock making accidentally gave him two volumes about magic, called Scientific Amusements. Poof! (You get the idea.)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Witchcraft in Wales

According to Rev Felix Aubel, practitioners of the dark arts -- and let's be clear that he indicates these are witches of the wicked variety -- are abundant in the countryside of Wales.

Read the Telegraph article and make of it what you will, but Aubel's details about the number of witches and occultists (read: Satanists) and what they've done seems suspect. Even more so given his autobiography, A Rebel's Story, came out in October 2012.

Bad deeds and bad intentions ... let's allow that people are capable of witchiness, but Aubel makes rural Wales sound like a Hammer horror film. We smell an attempt to boost lagging book sales.

Oh well. Here's a cool illustration by John R. Neill of the Wicked Witch of the East from L. Frank Baum's The Tin Woodman of Oz:

[A twirl of our gnarled crone finger to Fortean Times for the Telegraph link.]

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Came the Dawn

January 1 is an arbitrary marker. If you're using it to signal a planned change in your life, a point at which to start or stop something, The Typing Monkey hopes you succeed.

Please turn your attention now to this video of Iron Maiden (Paul Di'Anno era) performing "Running Free" on the BBC program, Top of the Pops. Please note that they are playing live, a rarity on a show, where most musicians pantomimed to their studio-recorded hit.

[courtesy of dopewackshit -- yes, really]

Have a good year.