Friday, February 22, 2013

Black and White In Color

One of the most wonderful aspects of the Web is that reading (or listening to, or watching) things you know, or are at least have intention to know, can take on some of the traits of conversation with friends who are smarter than you.

Perhaps you're reading posts from comic book writer Kurt Busiek and in a matter of seconds, find yourself staring at amazing photos by Gordon Parks, on a terrific art blog called Messy Nessy Chic.

Specifically, Messy Nessy was highlighting a series of incredible color photographs from Parks, a frequent contributor to the pages of Life, that were discovered after Parks died. Parks shot in black and white most of the time, but he opted to document the "softer" side of life in a segregated United States in bold color.

Softer, we say, because, as Nessy notes, most of us are accustomed to pictures of the Civil Rights era, and the years leading up to it, depicting violence or clear indications of a nation about to boil over.

These shots instead show an almost mundane, yet still massively loaded, everyday-ness of living in a world of denial.

Check out the Parks page on Messy Nessy, then dig around the rest of her site. Who knows where you'll end up.

Monday, February 18, 2013

For Sale: Antique Mirror With Angry Ghost

Once in a while, the digital swap meet eBay scores a touchdown on behalf of weird-news seekers by offering something truly strange.

Potato chips that look like presidents are fine, but The Typing Monkey really flips for anything that the seller claims is haunted or cursed. And eBay's UK market really paid off when a seller going by the name "mrjoiee" put a mirror up for sale that is "very possibly haunted."

The asking price was £100 [~$155], which "mrjoiee" got from the single bid that was offered:

For that price, the buyer will get a 56" x 48" mirror that "was originally walnut" but was restored by "mrjoiee's" roommate "with a metallic silver colour, making it appear more modern."

According the the account from the seller, the landlord at their flat had put the mirror out with other trash, the seller and roommate asked if they could have it and, to paraphrase Elvis Presley, that's when their heartache began:

"Many times since putting up the mirror, both myself and my flat mate have woken in the early morning hours screaming in pain. We both experienced what I can only describe as intense sharp stabbing pains throughout out bodies. They would strike us both at the same time, then dissapear as fast as they came. Our original suspicions were that somebody was performing some kind of voodoo or Black magic on us.

"The mood in the flat turned sour. I felt constantly as if there was a sense of impending doom upon us. As if something awful was about to happen. Both of us began to feel zombie like, as if drained of all our energy. Many times over the course of the next few months we were unable to move out of bed, our bodies weak and tired for no apparent reason.

"However, leaving the flat for any short amount of time would make us both feel instantly better. Upon returning to the flat, the zapping of energy feeling would strike again." [Capitalization and grammar intact from original post.]

The story culminates in a flatmate going to the emergency room, and unexplainable scratches on the body of the seller, that coincided with terrible pain and vivid nightmares. And now that mirror, which once hung in the hallway of the building, before its brief, awful tenure in the seller's flat, now goes to a new home.

"Mrjoiee" posted a Q&A for the sale, answering honest inquiries as well as replying to the expected jokes. Here's our favorite:

Q: Hi there mrjoiee! I was just wondering if you had any more details about the nature of the malevolent entity haunting your mirror. I've come across loads that have tormented souls of the dead trapped inside them, but I really need to track down one of the much rarer demonic models. It sounds fussy I know, but I run a vampire hairdressers and the only mirrors capable of showing the reflection of the damned are those that are forged of purest evil. So I was wondering if you could do me a favour and check for a serial number on the back, which will hopefully start 666... But I expect the label has peeled off, so you could do a quick diagnostic test instead? It's really easy, just turn all the lights off, face the mirror and say the word "candyman" three times. If terrifying carnage ensues, consider it sold! Thanks for your help! 

A: Haha you almost had me going there for a minute! 

Oh, internets! How we love you.

For astute readers, this story may sound a little familiar.

[Lights out and three chants of "bloody Mary" to MSN Now]

Monday, February 11, 2013

Candy News Bulletin

We interrupt our programming to bring you this special report on seasonal Dots.

As regular Typing Monkey readers know, Ghost Dots, and other Halloween variants of the Tootsie Roll Industries' excellent gumdrop, are a big deal at TMI headquarters.

So imagine our surprise when we discovered, while shopping at a Grocery Outlet this past weekend, Christmas Dots. Unsurprisingly, the holiday that won't shut up from Labor Day through New Year's Day, inspired just one holiday-themed Dot from Tootsie.

We are happy to report they're delicious.

Christmas Dots are cherry or lime, each capped with an opaque cap of vanilla, as if a tasty snow has dusted candy land. The cherry dominates the vanilla, giving a wallop of chemical fruitiness smoothed only a little by the creamy chaser. The lime fares better by tasting a little more balanced between "green" flavor and vanilla.

Yes, we realize that at the time of this posting, Valentine's Day is three days away. Tootsie Roll Industries has that covered.

But when a giant bag of fun-sized boxes of Christmas Dots costs just $1.49, you think we're going to pass that up? It's for science.

Look for 'em next year (or on clearance right now ... ahem) and if you can find the fun-size bag, as we did, know that the back of each box has a handy "to & from" tag, and for those with far too much time  on their hands, the boxes can be turned into ornaments.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Notable Illusionists of History [No. 5]

Collect 'em all!

Reginald Scot
(c.1538 – 9 Oct 1599)
Birthplace:  England (specific location undocumented)
Profession-changing contribution:  Scot was not a magician or illusionist. An educated man of the upper-class, he published a book The Discoverie of Witchcraft, in 1584, that challenged the belief in witchcraft.
A portion of the text details how some acts of conjuring performed in public were actually illusions using mechanical devices and other simple deceptions. It's now considered the first (unintentional) instruction manual for illusionists.
Scot's accusation that the Roman Catholic church was to blame for the punishment of "witches" and witch-hunt culture in general, did not go over well with authorities. When James I rose to power, copies of the book were burned.
Fun fact:  Scot also wrote the first instructional volume about hops cultivation, Perfect Platform of a Hop-garden.
Bonus fun fact:  The full title of Scot's witchcraft-debunking text is, The Discoverie of Witchcraft, wherein the Lewde dealing of Witches and Witchmongers is notablie detected, in sixteen books … whereunto is added a Treatise upon the Nature and Substance of Spirits and Devils.

Editor's note: We couldn't find a suitable image of the cover of Mr. Scot's book, and there are no portraits of Scot available. However, you can read excerpts from Discoverie of Witchcraft here and here.

Friday, February 1, 2013


February 2 marks the true start of spring. And instead of posting a music video or other light entertainment, The Typing Monkey instead encourages you to read AV Club writer Todd VanDerWerff's love letter to the television program Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

VanDerWerff makes a strong case in response to the headline "Is Mister Rogers' Neighborhood the Greatest Television Show Ever Made?" It's up there, for sure. Either way, reading it will make you feel better, no matter what it's like outside.