Friday, September 27, 2013

Nyuk Nyuk

Do a little time travelling with us via the United States Library of Congress.

It's easy to fall down any number of information rabbit-holes there, so allow us to point you in the direction of "The American Variety Stage, 1870 - 1920" collection , then creep a little further into the audio archives and enjoy wax cylinder recordings of some vaudeville routines and songs from the era.

Given these were recorded both for posterity and mass consumption, we can't help but wonder how many blue routines were deemed unfit for preservation. That's our loss.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

What's Inside a Quas?

Mass Appeal just published an interview with Jeff Jank, the art director for music label Stones Throw.

The focus is on the creation of Quasimoto, the alter-ego of dj/producer/rapper Madlib. It won't change your life, but it's fun to hear Jank talk about how much the music influenced the design.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Art From a Film That Never Was

Hans Bacher and Andreas Deja are artists and animators who have worked for Disney as well as other studios. Some time ago (2004 per one source) they were put to work doing character and design work for a proposed animated feature for Disney called Fraidy Cat.

As is usually the case, the project was shelved and will likely never come back. And as is sometimes the case, giving up on the project is a big loss. The film was "a charming crime story taking place in London of the sixties, a bit of HITCHCOCK’S ‘REAR WINDOW’ with animals," said Bacher. [caps and emphasis his]

Alas, Fraidy Cat will never be. But Deja and Bacher have posted some of their early concept art and oh boy, does it look like it would have been fun.

Deja worked on character design for Oscar and Corrina, a cat and a bird who were to be the film's protagonists. He also did a sizeable gallery of the various supporting cast:

Bacher worked on background and style designs that show off the script's proposed settings:

And is it just us, or does that cat look a little like Cary Grant?

See everything they posted here and here. And read Bleeding Cool's post about the abandoned project, because that's where we read about it.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Getting Out

Typing Monkey publisher S.L. Kreighton insists that his parents went out of their way every Halloween to scare him and his siblings. "Really, any time of the year," he said. "It didn't matter. One time, I was so scared I kicked my mom in the face."

Whatever. We humored him because he brought the "room escape" trend in China and Japan to our attention. "Just like mom used to do," Kreighton said, with a  far-off look in his eye, after repeatedly jabbing his finger at the screen as if it were newsprint.

Room escape games sound like genuine fun. Sadly, budget cuts at Typing Monkey Int'l have put the kibosh on any "unnecessary travel." So we're crossing our fingers that the trend hits the United States.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Switchblades at Dawn

The Typing Monkey has never watched more than a few seconds of the animated Fox sitcom Bob's Burgers. We don't know why, it just never happened. Maybe someday.

Neither have we seen anything beyond a teaser clip for the Nickelodeon cartoon Sanjay and Craig.

Why are we giving an inventory of animated shows we've never seen? Because artist Jay Howell has a hand in both of those shows and we've just discovered his art blog.

One of the most creative and sly things Howell shares via his site, are the "book paintings" in which he paints a sort of illustration on the title page of a paperback. Most of the books are Harlequin romance novels:

When Howell interprets the title literally, as in the example above, it changes what we can assume the book is actually about. Try hard enough, and you can probably imagine what the real book cover looked like. You're probably not far off if you've seen a romance novel or two.

Howell makes them funny, absurd and creepy-cute. His site is full of these, and he even sells them. (We didn't check to see how much he charges.) But just getting to see them online makes his blog worth a look.

Yes, it's the sun covered in naked people. Somehow, Howell has tapped into the 9-year-old boy part of his brain that giggled when Huck Finn shouted "hump yourself" at Jim as the teacher read Adventures of Huckleberry Finn out loud in class.

The Naked Sun joke is so simple and Howell's depiction so elegant and profane that the viewer isn't so much angry that we didn't do it first, but rather overjoyed that somebody made this happen.

Not that Howell's art is all bewbs and knife fights. Go see  for yourself what happened when he took his brushes and pens to the title page of a paperback called Cast a Tender Shadow.

[Yet another enthusiastic nod to Monster Brains for turning us on to Howell's work.]

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Smallest of All Living Crocodilians

Curvier's dwarf caiman, aka the musky caiman, only reach about 4.5 feet in length on average. All caimans are known as alligatorid crocodylians, which is really fun to say out loud.
Cuvier's dwarf caiman, (Paleosuchus palpebrosus) in Prague sea aquarium “Sea world”, Czech Republic
Photo: Karel Jakubec

[Dept. of corrections: The correct unit of measure has been added to the figure "4.5" after initially being published without any indication of how long the Curvier's caiman grows beyond a meaningless figure. We deeply regret this error and will send both the writer and editor on a shopping trip to Costco on a Satruday afternoon as punishment.]

Monday, September 9, 2013

Sampling Ouroboros

The Typing Monkey un-ironically, well, and sometime fully ironically, grouses about the Web/internet all the time. But as a communication medium, it does many wonderful things.

Case in point: We listened to the song "Loose Booty" by Sly & the Family Stone this morning. Not because we're awesome, but because it was the subject of the most recent Hear This column at the AV Club.

Hear This can be a real treat when it does something like it did with the entry concerning "Loose Booty" -- that being, make the reader aware of a lesser-known song from an otherwise well-known artist. And in this case, it was in service of showing off something else that modern technology has enabled: Finding great music by sample-sourcing.

"Loose Booty" was used as the basis for The Beastie Boys' tune "Shadrach" from their sophomore album, Paul's Boutique, a real piƱata of an album for sample-geeks. One read of the liner notes to that could start an expensive crate-digging habit.

We've always called that game "Spot the Sample" but the point is the same: You hear hip-hop music with samples, and you see if you can figure out what the source material for the sample is. Alternately you read the liner notes (or cheat via Who Sampled Who) and go find that music.

The result is, you pride yourself on your vast knowledge, and equally vast music collection, or you discover something new, and enjoy that new find. So shake your cane at those damn kids all you want, a portion of the hip-hop audience will always care enough to seek out the music that inspired or contributed to what they're listening to.

Which brings us to this:

If you haven't already seen this, or haven't already pressed play, it's a terrific and infectiously fun breakdown of another Paul's Boutique cut, "Shake Your Rump." One song, many samples, all of them neatly pointed out for you by a man who took the time to make this because he wants to turn you on to more good music.

And we wouldn't have seen this without a quick scan of the comments on the Hear This column, where a link to this video was posted by both Quirinus and D_Boons_Ghost, two people we'll likely never meet.

Let's crowd-source world peace, man.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Cider When Cider Wasn't Cool

According to various tastemakers, hard cider is the cool drink right now. Which means it's not at all the cool drink right now. We say, drink what you like and stop thinking about what it says about you.

Unless you're drinking turpentine, in which case, please, seek help.

We are enthusiastic fans of hard apple cider, especially those craftier brews that skip the sticky sweetness of some of the big-batch manufacturers. But let's not get weird about it. The following video has put Wilkins Farmhouse Cider on our radar. Let's all take a field trip to Somerset.

Thirsty Work - Memories of a Somerset Cider Farm from Thom Huxtable on Vimeo.

We're in love, f'reals.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Diana, Huntress of Bus Drivers

Ciudad Juarez in Mexico City may have a costumed vigilante, and she means business. The story, if it's true -- and this news report give it a squinty eye -- concerns direct and violent retribution against bus drivers in the city.

What did transit workers do to bring down the hammer of old-world justice on themselves? For years, it's believed that some drivers have been raping and killing female passengers, leaving their bodies in the desert.

But someone calling herself Diana, Huntress of Bus Drivers, alleges she's responsible for the recent shooting deaths of two drivers in the area. Each driver got two shots to the head, and police are investigating.

Read the story and cross your fingers that Diana has her targets straight. Her press release is chilling and righteous. And as has been pointed out elsewhere, if the police there put as much effort into stopping the rapes and murders of women as they are in attempting to find Diana, there'd be no need for Diana.

[Hat tip to The Stranger for the lead.]