Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Got a Habit

It's a dodgy game, declaring your goals toward self-improvement on a night designed for hedonisitc pursuits and letting go of sense. Make any resolutions achievable, but not too easy. You don't want to be patting yourself on the back come February then have nothing to work on for the remaining 10 months.


[courtesy of Demins]

Happy New Year sweethearts. Take it easy on yourself.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Holiday Heroes & Villains

Whatever you're celebrating, have a good time and be safe. Maybe you're not celebrating a danged thing. That's okay. Everybody likes cartoons, so let's celebrate the fact that we can watch this obscure bit of Christmas cheer pretty much where ever we want to, whenever we want to.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

"Wouldn't marry the pres-i-dent"

The National Film Board of Canada has a Vimeo channel. Want to get lost in a land of cinematic wonder, we ask, rhetorically? It's one of the best places on the Web to spend some time being entertained and educated.

Here's a great example of what NFBC does with its money, and reader, we think that's money well spent.


Mr. Frog Went A-Courting from National Film Board of Canada on Vimeo.

And we highly recommend Blinkety Blank by Norman MacLaren (1955).

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Raymond the Librettist

Holy double-crossing dames! Writer Kim Cooper recently discovered that famed noir novelist Raymond Chandler wrote a libretto for a proposed operetta "The Princess and the Pedlar."

Read The Guardian's article about the discovery here. And if you want to see this work staged, there's a website detailing the efforts to try to make that happen.

Song and dance man?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Into the Drink

Need a new holiday tradition? Of course you don't. So do this instead:

Get your hands on two science fiction films from the 1950s, specifically, Creature from the Black Lagoon and Monster on the Campus. Then get your hands on a few of your favorite alcoholic beverages. Don't drink yet!

First a few words about these films.

Creature and Monster are united by their director, Jack Arnold. But they're two very different movies. 

Much like watching James Whale's Frankenstein, any reasonable viewer will root for the monster in Creature. The story concerns a crew of scientific researchers who find evidence of a missing link-type beast, an amphibious humanoid swimming the waters of the Amazon River. The men decide they need to bring the creature -- popularly referred to as the Gillman -- back to civilization for further research.

Naturally, Gillman does everything he can to avoid being kidnapped. Trouble is, Gillman can't stop oggling Julie Adams, the token damsel who enjoys leisurely swims in the Amazon.

About those swims: The underwater photography in Creature is just lovely. Arnold and cinematographer William E. Snyder use the swimming sequences like tension-filled ballets. Creature is fun on it's own, but it's also fun to look at.

Monster on the Campus packs a big mess of fun too, though it's hard to imagine, once you've seen it, that the same man directed this and Creature. The plot of Monster is simple: A scientist studying a coelacanth, the primitive fish long thought to be extinct, cuts his hand on the beast's fangs. Yadda, yadda, yadda, he transforms into an equally primitive primate and proceeds to terrorize various co-eds.

Modern sensibilities may cause us to giggle at Gillman's appearance. But the brute running around in Monster prompts guffaws. He's a sloppy blend of werewolf and Neaderthal. And that's cool. Monster on the Campus never reaches beyond it's B status. Audiences surely laughed when it raged across drive-in screens in 1958.

Now you have the movies and know a little bit about them, what to do with that booze? Reader, you are in for a treat as we instruct you in the ways of Jack Arnold's Double Feature Monster Creature Drinking Game. [caps ours]

Gather some friends and the liquor. Watch Creature first, because it's worth your (mostly sober) attention. Every time Gillman appears and that terrifying blast of trumpets plays, take a drink. When the scientist throws his cigarette into the Amazon, do a shot. Did Julie Adams just scream? Drink. Has she fainted in the grip of Gillman? Shot.

By the time the credits roll, your team will be properly lubricated to take on Monster on the Campus. No rules at this point, just make sure there are some snacks too and craft your own commentary as you go, or maybe try to remember how to spell coelacanth.

***BONUS CREATURE STUFF***

Though Creature from the Black Lagoon was released in 1954, the appearance and design of Gillman has become iconic enough that he's often referenced in popular culture as if he were part of the roster of classic Universal Monsters of the 1930s and early '40s. 

How iconic? He was painted by the amazing Basil Gogos:



Monday, November 24, 2014

(We Can't) Stop Talking About Monsters (Already!)

Listen buster, a good article about the less popular creeps from horror writing is not going to escape our attention. Neither will it escape yours. Here's a little taste:

"Next time you need to name check a novel about a prostitute impregnated with the sperm of a hanged man by a mad geneticist so that she gives birth to a vengeful nymphomaniac written by a homosexual Nazi, you’ll be glad we had this chat."

JW McCormack wrote the piece and it taught us several things about monsters we thought we knew, and clued us in to some reading material we are now obligated to seek out.

Read "31 Fairly Obscure Literary Monsters" and chances are we'll be fighting you for the last copy of Ambrose Bierce's The Damned Thing at the library.

Now, look at this cat:



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

From the Science Desk: Virus Snuffing Out Sea Stars Identified

"Identifying what virus is to blame is particularly difficult because a drop of seawater contains about 10 million viruses."

That's what scientists had to sort through in order to find the virus that's responsible for sea star wasting syndrome, the awful infection that's been causing sea stars (that's starfish) to lose limbs and in extreme cases, simply dissolve, along the West Coast of the North America for a few years.

But now that we've identified the culprit, how do we stop it? Or do we stop it? Many of the sea stars the virus affects are alpha predators within their specific ecosystem. That is, they're in the highest reaches of the food chain and help keep the population of prey animals under control.

Yet some say the virus may be nature's way of culling a population of sea stars that's become too large for sustainability, so we let it work itself out.

Read the PBS/News Hour story: "Scientists solve mystery of West Coast starfish plague"

Or be a lazy sod and watch this video:

Friday, October 31, 2014

Like, Boo, Man

Be safe and have fun, whatever you do. Tonight we open the gates of the TMI offices, turn on the fog machine, and listen to Screaming Jay Hawkins.

And because we like you a whole lot, we're puttin' two treats in your bag. Check it:


It's Halloween o'clock! Artist unknown, or at least uncredited, where we found it. If we figure out who did this orange and black dream, we'll edit accordingly.

Next up is Frank Frazetta's cover art for Creepy magazine, issue no. 7 (published by Warren):


Great googly-moogly! It's a werewolf fighting a Dracula! Our publisher-at-large, S.L. Kreighton brought us this one, and over-shared the following: "I'm pretty sure when I first saw this, I got an erection. Ah, to be nine again."

Now we're really scared.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Movie Time!

Spare seven minutes and some change for today's short feature, in which a pink mountain lion with a flair for drama (ahem) meets a cheap knock-off of The Addams Family.



Fry Your Eyes, Melt Your Brain, Love Your Ears

It's nearly go-time, people. And we know it's been a skint year for genuine reflection, critical examinations, or philosophical pondering from The Typing Monkey. So let us point you to some Halloween treats we frequent:

The Year Of Halloween -- A Tumblr that says what it does and does what it says. This is the Halloween-nut equivalent of finding a roll of quarters outside the arcade. Each post can send you down a rhizomatic path of creepy delights. Go now.

Distinctly Jamaican Sounds -- John, aka Reggaexx is at it AGAIN. Surely the man must dig deeper and deeper in his vaults every year to bring the world custom-made mixes of spooky dub, reggae, ska, rocksteady, and if memory serves, even some lover's rock. Now, we say "dig deeper and deeper" because you'd think he'd run out of material. But no. Every year there are new discoveries, fun sound effects, and even custom artwork. Download piecemeal, or wait for the full set on the 31st. But leave a comment of appreciation no matter what. It's a party soundtrack you didn't have to make, and not a "Monster Mash" in sight.

Graves and Ghouls -- We pointed at this last year when we first discovered it, and it's up and running again this year. Like Year of Halloween above it will show your eyeballs a good time. And, like YoH, there's some mild nudity, so approach with caution if you're at work.

Originally posted on The Weird Wide Web which we would not know about if we hadn't seen it first on The Year of Halloween.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Is There Any Other Kind?

Reviews for this paperback from 1971 range from straightforward to snarky. Well, pretty much either one or the other. And those are just the reviews from a bunch of modern resources.

Who knows how this book was received during it's original time as a new release on the shelf? The point is, copies are for sale and if you're terribly interested in rising to the challenge of the title, don't let us stand in your way. The authors, we assume, knew what they were talking about. 

As for the rest of us, there's so much to study here:


For real, just put the title of this book into the search engine of your choice and find out what's inside. Then tell us.

Monday, October 27, 2014

That Ol' Drac Hand


Ultimate source unknown on this one, though we found it via the Weird Tales Facebook feed. It has to be a book cover, VHS sleeve or movie poster. And if there's more too the image, we don't want to see.

The simple image of the vampire's hand, a French cuff, the scarlet interior of the casket planting the idea of blood in the viewer's mind -- it delivers a slow, but steadily unfolding fear. Awake now, the Count will rise and disappear into the night, hungry.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Everybody Wants a Moon Monster Of Their Own

The Typing Monkey digs the short films of Jason Willis. And the rascal's back again with another seasonal effort:


Moon Monster - Animated Horror Fan Club Spot (Comic Book Ad, 1970) from Jason Willis on Vimeo.

It's good fun and took a lot of work, as you might imagine. Read about the making of Moon Monster here. And check out Mr. Willis' website for more neat stuff.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Cranium Not Included

Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” may be the birth of American fiction but the lore of a headless horseman roaming the woods of upstate New York was not his original creation. Mind, we do not begrudge Irving for taking an urban legend and running with it toward lasting fame. Shakespeare himself re-purposed myth and legend for many of his great works.

Headless horseman folklore varies slightly from region to region. One German variant (there are several) casts the specter as a benign force, whose appearance warns hunters to take the day off, lest tragedy befall them.

Most Celtic stories lean on more sinister depictions of the rider from the great beyond. By far the most gruesome of these is the Irish dulachán (dark man) who carries his own head tucked under his arm and wields a whip made from a human spine. A human spine!

Irving perhaps combined some of these iterations to arrive at his famous Hessian soldier who died in an unnamed battle during the American Revolution. And thanks to numerous paintings, illustrations and a really terrific Disney cartoon, most of us Yankees envision a black-caped, barrel-chested horror on a sturdy black steed, ready to lob a flaming Jack-o’-lantern at timid Ichabod Crane.

That’s pretty much what’s happening in the U.S. Postal Service stamp from 1974:

Designed by Leonard Everett Fisher

For no extra charge we offer two more artistic interpretations of the Headless Horseman:

By Abigail Larson

Cover art by Gil Kane and Ernie Chan


[Tip o' the jack-o'-lantern to Weird Tales for the Larson and Kane/Chan artwork.]

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cliff's Notes For Dummies, Ya Dummy!

Forgive us for just discovering Better Book Titles, the Tumblr that sums up classic literature by re-titling the books with, well, take a look at the Halloween set and you'll get the idea.



[Hat tip to Hark A Vagrant's Tumblr.]

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Witch Folklore From the Midwest

Mysterious Heartland "focus[es] on unsolved mysteries, true crime, ghost stories, folklore, and books and movies about those topics." Yah, sure, you betcha!

Tradition holds that most tales of witchery in the United States center around New England, thanks to Salem, Massachusetts and those buzzkilling Puritans who pretty much thought everyone who wasn't a Puritan fellated the Devil on a regular basis. Only the sweaty bayous of Louisiana rival New England in terms of black magic stories set in the U.S.

But Mysterious Heartland editor and writer Michael Keen says hold on to your scrapple for five minutes. The American Midwest has some witch lore too. And he dug up ten good ones. Now, most of them read as pure urban legend, and that's okay. There's nothing wrong with having a few new weapons in your ghost-story telling arsenal next time you need to scare your nephew.

Read Keen's list and enjoy the common themes it shares not just with other witchcraft yarns, but scary stories in general. There are false accusations, angry mobs, ghosts, curses, and lots of evil revenge. Sound familiar?

Yooper?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Splotch, A Blotch

The 1958 horror/sci-fi movie The Blob gets tossed into the pile of it's kitsch/camp peers too often. It's a surprisingly funny and self-aware film that still delivers the cheap thrills of a good drive-in distraction.

The Blob probably isn't the first movie of the era to have adults doubting teens who deliver stories of wild goings-on. But it executes the trick well, and in doing so, must have endeared a fair portion of its target demographic by saying: "Yes, new social class, you teenagers, you. We believe you. We think you have something to say."

Perhaps that's giving the filmmakers too much credit. But it's hard not to think that way when Steve McQueen, in one of his first big screen roles, does such a sly impression of James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause -- the ultimate in teen validation cinema. 

In Rebel it was the need to be understood -- that the violence the teens were engaging in was a cry for attention, a cry for help. With Blob, it's the need to be believed -- for the adults to accept that two teens saw a protoplasmic monster crawl out of a meteorite and eat a hobo.

And if all else fails, watch The Blob for the nifty opening credits music -- a beach-blanket pop treat written by Burt Bacharach and pretty much designed to get teen feet on the dance floor.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Skatin' Death

The Grim Reaper don't even look twice at your "No Skateboarding" sign.


[A note: If you're not following Weird Tales on Facebook, you're missing out on tons of fun artwork, photos and writing. We swiped this image from their feed. Whenever possible, if we re-post their selections, we give credit to WT, and more importantly, the artist.]

Squash

We may snicker when a teen in Hot Topic goth gear waxes philosophic on the beauty of decay, but reader, that teen is on to something.

In popular depictions, the crackle of autumn leaves and the twilight passage of migrating birds hog the cozy glow of October. But it's the slowing pulse of nature getting comfortable in her sleep that moves the pens of poets. Clouds nudge closer for warmth and the scurrying feet of insects send Morse code to the soil: Good night and thank you for everything you've done. Now rest.

Shh.

Lean in close to carnival mouth of the jack-o'-lantern. His turnip breath exhales a whisper: None of us were meant to last.


halloween pumpkins 2014 from Thomas Vespermann on Vimeo.


If you'd like to see another slightly creepy time lapse video from Thomas Vespermann, check out "Vintage Flower Dolls."

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Daily Planner ... of Horror!

Mark Anderson of Andertoons discovered something wonderful. The "Mighty Marvel Calendar for 1975" can be repurposed for 2014. That is, all the days and dates line up exactly with the current year. It's not a black swan event, it happens three times during any given 28-year cycle.

Anderson just happened to have the 1975 calendar. So he scanned it and made it available to us plebes. We didn't mention it back in January because we figured you already knew that was a thing and were all over this.

October's artwork provides a nice peek into what mainstream comics were doing at the time, and 1975 was a boom year for Marvel's horror titles:


Go get the whole thing at Anderson's site (linked above) and live out the last quarter of 2014 like the stylish gadabout you are.


[Hat tip to Bleeding Cool a way back in January.]

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September Heaved a Sigh

The following sentence is the abstract from an article on MSN.com:

"Wildlife numbers have plunged by more than half in just 40 years as Earth's human population has nearly doubled, a survey revealed Tuesday."

Are you able to read that sentence and not feel the bottom drop out of your stomach? If so, we envy you.

This is the part where we would link to the MSN piece, but in digging around, we found the survey was done by the London Zoo, so here's the BBC piece on the findings, if for no other reason than the BBC is ostensibly closer to the source.

Is there hope? There is no hope. There is hope. Is there hope? Mm. We've already pulled all the petals off the daisy. Time to pick another one.

Let's take a breath and recalibrate our brains with a bold idea from evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson, who recently told Smithsonian Magazine that "people haven’t been thinking big enough -- even conservationists."

What then, does Mr. Wilson propose? Half of the world should be returned to wildlife. Oh you sweet, 85-year-old dreamer of golden dreams. If only, Mr. Wilson. It's a wonderful thought.

Read the interview here.

Now, here's your reward:

photo © Brian W. Schaller / License: CC BY-NA-SA 3.0
This frog lives in the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont. She gives zero fucks about your social media presence.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Unified Joke Theory?

The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny by Peter McGraw and Joel Warner attempts to do what many others have before: dissect jokes and thus explain how humor works. The main theory, provided by McGraw, who is the director of the Humor Research Lab at the University of Colorado, is called the benign-violation theory.

Jokes, once dissected, stop being funny. So without having read the book, it's impossible for us to weigh in with an opinion. Instead, we read Joel Epstein ruminations on the idea in his article for Commentary magazine, "Notes On What's So Damn Funny."

Epstein includes many jokes in his piece, so at the very least, you'll get some laughs. But seriously, read his article. And if you like it, try McGraw and Warner's book.

Thanks, you've been great! G'night!



[Thanks once more to Arts & Letters Daily]

Friday, August 29, 2014

Elvin Jones's Right Hand

Class, your homework assignment is to listen to the Art Farmer Quintet's 1956 post-bop recording "Farmer's Market."

Please pay special attention to the INSANE triplet/16th note (faster?) cymbal work of drummer Elvin Jones, as he dives, dodges and jumps over Art Farmer's trumpet, Hank Mobley's tenor sax, and Kenny Drew's piano.

Bishop and bassist Addison Farmer lock down the tempo with the mind-blowing ease of all great jazz rhythm sections -- blindingly quick and maddeningly sure-footed -- like two dancers so in tune with each other, they glide around as if floating.

[courtesy JckDupp]


Here's a picture of the man himself, in a photo culled from his website:


Friday, August 22, 2014

Howard and Ray

The American writer of weird fiction, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, would have been 124 years old on Aug 20, if here were still alive. And who knows, maybe he is? The mythology he created has become so deeply ingrained in the fantasy and horror cannon, it might as well be scripture -- or, y'know, the truth.

Look at this great cover for one of his more terrifying novellas The Dunwich Horror:


The water color inks and psychedelic slant of the artwork reflects the story quite well, with beings that defy Earthly biology and cosmic magic that's only hinted at in the dark bottom portion of the cover. Read some Lovecraft, will ya?

A nice complement to this news is that Aug 22 is Ray Bradbury's birthday. Unlike Lovecraft's bleak, sometimes depressing horror, Bradbury had an inhuman gift for balancing moments of terror with genuine sweetness.

His work stands acts like a boilerplate for many screenwriters and filmmakers who have attempted (and a few succeeded, though never quite like Bradbury) at tapping into the mind of gentle, introspective protagonists thrust into unbelievable situations.

Check out this vintage cover art for Bradbury's novel Something Wicked This Way Comes. It's loaded with intrigue and hints of unforseen danger:


If neither of these makes you want to read even one short story from either of these authors, well buddy, you're on the wrong end of the internets.

Let's close this catch-up post with a bit of music appropriate to the topic. Windand formed in 2009, a five-piece playing stoner/doom metal with a real gift for atmosphere and bluster. The quintet wields dynamics for more than just sonic impact, with a gift for shading and mood that falls from the grasp of many bands working in those genres.

Their latest album Soma, was released nearly a year ago. And now there's a video for the song "Orchard." The visuals work well with the song, and demonstrate a great re-purposing of (what we assume is) public domain footage with newly photographed sequences. Let's get eerie:


WINDHAND - "Orchard" (Official Video) from Relapse Records on Vimeo.


[Editor's note: We're trying to track down the names of the artists who painted those book covers. If we can find them, we'll give credit.]

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mad History

Hey kids, we're kind of on summer hiatus here.

Okay, we admit it. We've closed the offices down in favor of an epic bender. Fine. We said it. Are you happy now?

While we're gone, you should make time to read Jeff Weiss' history of the album that made Stones Throw: Madvillainy by Madvillain. Don't know what we're talking about? Read Weiss' blow-by-blow of how it came about and you'll be sold. It's hyperbolic, but that's standard for Pitchfork. And really, if it's not filled with purposely frilly sentences, it wouldn't be music writing, would it?

And now: "Searching for Tomorrow: The Story of Madlib and DOOM's Madvillainy"



We're going back to sleep for now. See you soon!

Monday, July 28, 2014

The media watch-dog group One Million Moms, a subset of the fundamentalist Christian organization the American Family Association, has come out swinging against a new live-action show on Adult Swim called Black Jesus.

Aaron McGruder, the creator of the lauded comic strip The Boondocks, is behind Black Jesus, which seems to follow in the same deeply satirical vein as McGruder's comic, which was later turned into a critically acclaimed cartoon on Adult Swim.

Watch the lengthy trailer and form your own thoughtful opinion or whip up some righteous anger:


We were unaware of Black Jesus until One Million Moms got mad enough to make the news outlets pay attention. (It's an historically slow time of year in the news cycle, never mind that we seem to be on the brink of admitting that we're in the midst of global war, or, if you like, World War III.)

As is so often the case, those upset by a piece of art have shouted, and in doing so, prompted many more to take a look than otherwise would have.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Moar Boar

Aldershot, UK sludge trio XII Boar put out another four-song E.P. in 2012 that we didn't mention. So go give Split Tongue, Cloven Hoof a spin and if you want it with you all the time, cough up some cash and download it asap.

(For posterity: "Triclops" thunders across the stereo, a mythic, massive beast of a song that makes us want to ride a dinosaur down the interstate, crushing all puny automobiles in our way.)

If anything, since we last mentioned XII Boar, the trio has gotten faster and noisier. And a self-aware sense of comedy has surfaced.

Witness the silly video they made for new single "Truck Stop Baby." In it, XII Boar sing the praises of a particular woman who offers services at a roadside stop for long-haul drivers who need to, er, relax. It's comes off like David Allan Coe reinterpreting Golden Earring.

What's far more interesting to The Typing Monkey is the b-side to the new single: A slower, (almost) softer reworking of "Train Wreck" from their debut E.P. XII.

XII Boar's groove-oriented riffery -- always a little peppier than your average stoner metal, let alone doom -- got pushed aside in the original take of "Train Wreck." As if to embody its title, the original recording barreled ahead at hardcore speed, a hairy, unstoppable song that should absolutely soundtrack a bar fight in a 1970s bike movie.

The newer version, parenthetically identified as a "(Slight Return)" gets somehow more biker-like, the kind of tune that gets posted on YouTube as a forgotten gem of the proto-metal variety. It's crank-blues that make lesser humans feel dirty. We're still chewing and digesting, and for now, prefer the pummeling original. 

That said, it's always compelling when a band re-interprets its own material. Lend an ear:

"Train Wreck"

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cosmic, Man

Take an hour to relax and enjoy Stuart Arentzen's "a suite of recent synth fiddlings" via SoundCloud.

Listen in the title link above, or spin it in the embedded player below. What to expect? Let's say you're having a bubble bath with Carl Sagan and then you realize it's not a bathtub but a wormhole that shoots you out of the Milky Way, through a black cloud of dark matter and eventually into a nebula where juggling is encouraged.


bewbs!

Historians and cultural critics agree: This thing we, usually incorrectly, call the internet is built on a shameful pile of subjects that will one day signify and symbolize all that was wrong with Western Civilization.

So with that out of the way, let us be clear, breasts are terrific. There is no shame in boobs. All mammals have them and most humans wouldn't be alive without them.

To show how deep humanity's obsession appreciation for boobs goes, regard this Wikipedia article on hills around the world that happen to look like breasts, at least from certain angles. Yep. In what is now the primary fact-checking resource in most nations, resides an article about hills that look like boobs.

The "Breasts of Aphrodite" at Mykonos, Greece
photo by Ross Berteig

Take that, Pliny the Elder!

["I already hate this job." -- New summer intern Alice]


Black Magic Woman

We've mentioned legendary doom metal band Electric Wizard at least once before. With a new album due this fall, The Typing Monkey figured it was time to (re-)acquaint readers with a terrific interview with Electric Wizard's guitarist -- no, the other one. Yeah, her, Liz Buckingham. The one who isn't Jus Osborn.

In 2011, Kim Kelly, of NPR's music blog The Record, interviewed Buckingham. Asking smart questions to get smart answers, Kelly illuminates Buckingham's inspiring motivations. Like the best female musicians stomping around in a field still dominated by men, Buckingham isn't a female guitarist, she's a guitarist. Right on, Liz Buckingham. Right on.

Read it all here and get hip to the massive, too-much-to-smoke power of Electric Wizard.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Gather the Kids and Ruin Their Day

Vimeo's Staff Picks are often very good, the pinnacle of "user-generated content" as the industry jargon calls it.

The short horror film (it's less than three minutes long) Lights Out does a lot with a little and is highly inappropriate for children -- not because it's violent, or filled with adult images they're not ready for, but rather because it shows them exactly why we're all afraid of the dark. It won awards for a reason.


Lights Out - Who's There Film Challenge (2013) from David F. Sandberg on Vimeo.

Sleep tight.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pimpf

8-Bit Operators: Tribute to Depeche Mode: Enjoy the Science
Various Artists
(8-Bit Operators)

Note: Since editor-at-large S.L. Kreighton was actually alive when Depeche Mode put out its first single, and he has a grasp of what "chiptune" music is, we made him listen to this new tribute collection. Then when he fell asleep, we took his notes and published them here, exactly as written.


1. "But Not Tonight" - Bacalao
Drives home the significant charm of Dave Gahan's voice. Instrumental bed is fine, and the treated "ooohs" are pretty.

2. "Enjoy the Silence" - Herbert Weixelbaum
Oh Herbert! This doesn't have the immediate-joy of his 8-bit "Tansmusik" from the Kraftwerk tribute.

3. "Boys Say Go" - GOTO80
Dunno this one

4. "Policy of Truth" - Matt Nida feat. Lisa Schumann
Instrumentally, much of this sounds as if it could be an early DM composition. Good choice for vocalist, as Lisa Schumann's gender gives the words a different spin.

5. "Strange Love" - ComputHer
THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT. ComputeHer's reading of "Strangelove" recalls the future-fear of battered VHS horror films with plots involving a computer becoming obsessed with a human and going all Lifetime bad-boyfriend on any meatspace occupier foolish enough to get in the way.

6. "Martyr" - gwEm
Eh.

7. "Clean" - Laker feat. ONTBG
Really does something different with the tune and adds something (possibly) not done by DM: a guest verse from rapper ONTBG.

8. ffwd
[The song is "Photographic (Megamix)" - 8-Bit Operators -- ed.]

9. "New Life" - Patokai
Just a sped-up cover of a song that's already locked in the era in which it was created.

10. "(Set Me Free) Remotivate Me" - Aonami
I don't recall this song. The Web tells me it was a b-side to "Master and Servant." Huh.

11. "Never Let Me Down Again" - crashfaster
Why does the Vocoder (well, Vocoder-like) voice process suit chip-tunes so well? Because it removes the last human element. Hands down the best song DM ever wrote. Not a bad cover.

12. "Dreaming Of Me " - gameboymusicclub
Topic exhaustion sets in.

13. Somebody - Naomi Sample
I'm pretty sure I cried myself to sleep listening to this song at least once when I was 15.

14. "I Just Can’t Get Enough" - Yerzmeyey
Oh, we probably can. Yerzmeyey's treatment is fine. But after Nouvelle Vague, covering this should have stopped.

15. "Behind The Wheel" - Inverse Phase
Pretty, but I'm going to open the door and do the Adam-12 roll. Enough.


Reference materials: Remember when you found that old cassette of the first Depeche Mode album and the keyboards sound like toys now? And it's kind of cool, still, but maybe a little annoying when you're not in the mood? Yup.

TL;DR -- Cage Loves Comics

Actor/force of nature/internet meme Nicolas Cage owns some pricey comic books. And nearly 15 years ago, some were stolen from his home. Read Sandro Contenta's story about the crime and how an LAPD detective with a name that sounds like a character from a Superman comic solved the mystery.

It's exactly as strange as it sounds.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Wtht Vwls

Stones Throw always has something cooking. Even when the So-Cal hip-hop label's latest releases don't turn our crank, we pay attention because they do so much right.

Case in point: The preview track from newly signed beatmaker Mndsgn. "Txt" bumps a squishy, short reel of instrumental fun. The rest of the music arrives Aug 26, a nice way to extend summer as long as possible. We hope its all as good as this.



Friday, June 6, 2014

Friday, May 30, 2014

Lionel Catches a New Wave

We feel like we should hold one of those old Tonight Show cards up that says "more to come" in a hand-painted font, with maybe a laughing monkey sitting at a desk.

Oh well. Where ever you may be reading this, we hope you have headphones, a good half-hour to spare, and a heart.

Lionel Hampton's out-of-print 1963 LP Bossa Nova Jazz was probably a trend-hopping maneuver designed to sell records and keep Hamp & Co. in cigarettes and scotch. That's okay, because with results like this, the vibraphonist and his studio band can keep 'em coming.

There's great woodwind work throughout -- allegedly that's Gerry Mulligan on the baritone sax. And the flute in "Una Nota Sol" ("One Note Samba") would lift the spirits of a Victorian ghost with consumption. The buoyant notes of Hampton's vibes spill across the songs, a sound once described by TMI board of trustees member, The Amazing Mrs. Kendall, as the musical equivalent of "ice cubes tumbling into a glass."

Refreshing!


[courtesy of Paul Atreides]

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Oscar the Grouch Does Crowd Work

On Sunday, May 25, we took a field trip to Seattle's Egyptian Theater to see the West Coast premiere of the documentary film I Am Big Bird.

The movie tracks the rise and rise of puppeteer Caroll Spinney, the man inside the Big Bird costume/puppet on Sesame Street. He's also the performer behind Oscar the Grouch. It's standard fare as far as documentaries like this go, but entertaining and particularly moving if you're a fan of the Muppets. There are even a few revelations that pack a punch, and not just because of the contrast between the child-like innocence of an 8-foot tall yellow bird puppet versus the adult man who inhabits the suit.
Caroll Spinney, Oscar and various puppets.
[Photo courtesy of the I Am Big Bird website.]

Spinney and his wife attended the screening and during the Q and A session after the movie, Spinney brought out Oscar the Grouch. That is, the actual Muppet he uses when filming for Sesame Street.

A room mostly full of adults suspended disbelief and engaged with Oscar as if we were a bunch of preschoolers. Oscar became real. Oscar is real. Some patrons even asked questions directly to Oscar, and the Grouch never skipped a beat, saying things to fans that Spinney himself cannot. Though, to be fair, Spinney is saying those things to fans, but in a way he can't.

A fuzzy green puppet ran that room for ten minutes, and he was like Don Rickles on a cruise ship. See I Am Big Bird when you can. It's worth the time and attention even if you're not a major Muppet geek. The documentary shows how the right performer, in the right role, can make a major impact around the globe. And in Spinney's case, it's all for the positive.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Q: You know how I know you're gay?

A: You posted a poem on your blog

Well the joke's on you buddy, because we posted a link to a poem.

An excerpt from Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing
by Margaret Atwood:

but I come from the province of the gods
where meanings are lilting and oblique.
I don’t let on to everyone,
but lean close, and I’ll whisper:
My mother was raped by a holy swan.
You believe that? You can take me out to dinner.

***
Read the entire thing here. (It's short, but long enough that we wanted to link away rather than copy and paste.) Atwood wrote the poem in 1939, published in a collection from 1995 called Morning in the Burned House.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Ooh, the Colors

Given how sporadically we've been publishing anything -- artwork that some genuinely talented person created, a music video from decades past, critical commentary passed off as "writing" -- we still won't apologize.

That would be arrogant. For beneath any plea, no matter how sincere, is the expectation that readers were out there, waiting for The Typing Monkey to do something.

Instead, let's play catch up over the next few weeks and aim for a productive summer. [Somewhere, a retired junior high school band teacher mumbles "don't apologize, fix it." -- ed.]

To begin, take some time to read Oliver Sava's April 11 piece on comic-book colorists from the AV Club's "Big Issues" series. Sava writes intelligently about comic books, especially the superhero titles. And when he uses Big Issues to talk about the work behind the titles, it can be thoughtful and educational -- all the things good critical writing should be.

Colorists have been ignored, historically. Despite a good colorist being able to lift already good artwork to a higher level, the colorist's name rarely appears on the front cover. But that's been changing and Sava uses that change to talk about what a good colorist does, and why you, comic book reader, should care.

It also lead us to the blog of colorist Jordie Bellaire, who posts breakdowns of her work and is quite good at selecting images that illuminate the value of skills like hers. She's good, and she knows working with good artists makes them both look better.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

From the Dept. of Make-Good

Errors in our editorial department are frequent and egregious. However, when last night's Walpurgis Night post was held up by a sleeping copy editor, thus forcing us to publish on May 1 ... well that's the kind of nonsense we just can't abide.

So we duct-taped that editor to his chair, pried his eyes open and dosed him with three Red Bulls and a pot of drip coffee. And then we put this on repeat:


[courtesy of zozomusic69]

It's probably hugely inappropriate and possibly a little racist. But we don't speak enough French to be offended by Henri Salvador's novelty hit.

It's a Walpurgis Night

We've yammered before about Beltane, the Gaelic holiday on May 1 that traditionally marks the start of summer, as it's roughly halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice.

But today is April 30, and across Europe, those who give a hoot are lighting fires and toasting to the "other Halloween" known as Walpurgis Night, or more frequently, Walpurgisnacht.

Sitting on the opposite end of the calendar from Halloween/Samhain, Walpurgis Night behaves in a similar manner. It's believed that the barrier between our world and other worlds, especially the spirit world, is virtually non-existent on this night. Ghosts, demons and strange things will roam the land after sunset.

A strong association with witchcraft comes with Walpurgis Night, again, echoing the All Soul's/All Saint's dichotomy of Halloween and November 1. See, the Walpurgis refers to St. Walpurga, who is feted on May 1.

Naturally, to make things fair, the night before her feast, witches gather to do er, witchy things and non-witch types build bonfires to welcome summer ... and probably ward off malicious creeps from the nether realms. And that's Walpurgis Night.

Now, The Typing Monkey can't resist an opportunity to embrace the day and indulge in a little apple-blossom scented spookiness.

Thus:


Squeal! Can you stand it? If you didn't take us up on a previous Lovecraft recommendation, this is a workable compromise.

"The Call of Cthulhu" introduces Lovecraft's richly detailed horror mythology of the ancient Earth in a dynamite blast of fantasy pulp that reads like a mystery/adventure but delivers plenty of sci-fi haymakers in the form of wack-ass other-dimensional geometry, a sea-dwelling "god," and men driven insane by a totem that summons the beast.

Afraid of Lovecraft's text? Then take a short ride with deviantART madman DrFaustusAU* -- who has turned the tale into a Seussian nightmare, complete with illustrations.

His digital presentation starts at the bottom-right of the page, and moves up and to the left, so we've linked to page two of the collection, where the story actually begins. It's well executed and hits every vital part of the story.

A paper version is due eventually.


*It's pure kismet (or is it?) that we post DrFaustusAU's creation on Walpurgisnacht, as his user name reference the legend of the mad magician who sold his soul to the devil. You see, in Gounoud's opera, Faust, act two begins with a depiction of Walpurgisnacht in the devil's realm. Naturally, it's the sexiest part of the story.

Friday, April 11, 2014

We'll be right back after these messages.

Please take some time to look at Albrecht Dürer's "Rhinoceros." It's a woodcut the artist made in 1515. We are mildly curious about the text above the illustration, but that's a distant second to the detail of the rhino's "armor."

Look at:


Really, look at it. And know that it sold at auction in 2013 for $866,500. LOOK AT IT. You can't put a price tag on that. But someone did and now they have it, hanging somewhere, or in storage. But we can see it here, rendered in ones and zeros.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Free Music: Interpretations & Trip-hop by Any Other Name

Let’s start this three-part offering of links to free music with the double-scoop ATCO: A Tribute from Xiomara, a musician from San Francisco.

Radical re-workings of rap are a dicey game, often producing novelty (which isn’t automatically bad) but usually cringe-inducing. But once in a while, the right performer picks the right material and does something genuinely interesting with a style of pop music not necessarily suited to cover treatment.

Xiomara spritzes Outkast’s “So Fresh, So Clean” with a nearly a capella first verse to show off her Depression-era blues voice that, appropriately rides into a sort of gypsy-jazz breakdown at the end. The flipside puts a daydream drift across “Electric Relaxation” by A Tribe Called Quest. It’s a watery, soft and positively sensual reading of ATCQ’s already drowsy tune. The original is a request, Xiomara’s reading is pure promise keeping.

Get it, spin it, dig it.

***


Electric Wizard’s legend is mostly true. The English doom metal act has conjured a certain strain of creepy, occult-shaded metal sludge so filthy that listening to them can still feel transgressive. But turn off the amps and most classic metal, and a fair amount of doom, can sound like folk-blues that trades in murder-ballad imagery.

So what happens when a talented fan scrubs the druggy fuzz from Electric Wizard’s music? Acoustic Wizard answers that with some of the scariest campfire jams you’ll ever hear. The first two volumes, each with three tracks, are called Please Don’t Sue Me, which seems unlikely as we imagine the members of Electric Wizard would be all over this. It’s an act of pure love, with wonderfully gloomy results.

***

Electronic music site Earmilk calls Goldbloc’s Black Gold EP “one of the best slept on acts of our time." The term “slept on” seems to have lost its potency in this era of music consumption. After all, there’s so much new music that even dedicated genre fans are going to miss out on something. It’s just too hard to keep up. That said, Goldbloc really is a fantastic duo from Boston.

As our headline says, the four songs comprising Black Gold are trip-hop. Whether Goldbloc calls it that doesn’t matter. Don’t go in expecting the languorous, end-of-the century angst of Portishead, nor the jazz-lite chillout sound that made coffee houses seem cool in the late ‘90s. Seriously deep bass rolls with midnight menace beneath slightly glitchy treatment of vocals that recall the post-coital rasp of Elin Kastlander from jj. This is where soul music should be today.

You can download the EP for free by liking them on Facebook. We got a download error message, but that’s just Facebook being willfully difficult. You should be able to see the Dropbox link where you can grab the compressed zip file. Roll up.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Eat It: Lavender Chocolate

Sjaak's Organic Chocolates aren't all dairy free, but many are, so they're a popular treat when when we find enough change in the pay-phone coin return in the lobby of the TMI offices.

One of the most interesting confections Sjaak's makes is the Lavender Heart. It's a heart-shaped truffle of dark chocolate infused with real lavender oil. If that sounds like a soapy nightmare, it is not.

The lavender actually comes through in a subtle way, a summer wind to stir a romantic memory your brain has filed away. It's a lovely top note -- barely there alongside the bitter dark chocolate and never too sweet.

Find them if you can, or order directly from the Sjaak's site. Get these into the mouth area of your face soon and realize that your tongue has wanted to lick a meadow in the French countryside all along.

Hell, buy a tub and take them to book club.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Everybody Loves a Doris

Please accept The Typing Monkey's apologies for the long absence. Shit got real over the past few weeks and nobody at the offices felt like lifting the pencil or finding a piece of paper unbesmirched by memory and loss.

Let's get back to publishing with a belated birthday wish of health and happiness to Doris Day, who turned 90 on April 3.

It's easy to dismiss Day as a peroxided, harmless cutie whose sole purpose was to be irritated and flummoxed by Rock Hudson only to come around and fall in love in the third act of the many meringue-light romantic comedies the two made together during the 1960s.

That's fine, but we've always preferred the rom-coms with James Garner as her foil/paramour, as Garner's gravelly nature played better off of Day's sugary charms. Her outing with David Niven ain't bad either.

Better still is to remember that Day is the secret key to the success of Alfred Hitchcock's 1956 remake of his own The Man Who Knew Too Much. James Stewart does great work in the film, but it's Day's determined, crafty mom who finds a way out of the international intrigue mess they're in. It's a shame she didn't get more roles of this nature, as Day holds her own in a way many probably don't expect.

Her delivery of the song "Que Sera Sera" is not only a great plot device in Too Much, but just straight-up great selling of a song that uses Day's velvety delivery to great effect, given that the lyrics are actually quite clear-headed when put up against many other romantic tunes of the day.

And with that we arrive at Day's other great gift: The woman could sing. She's on par with other lauded Big Band vocalists (Kay Starr, et al.) and her creamy vibrato stands proud alongside Dinah Shore (another singer who rarely gets her due.)

Day could deliver the sad and heartbroken as well as the dreamy lovestruck material. And The Typing Monkey says if you want a real snapshot of what Day could do, look no further than "Everybody Loves a Lover."

It's not a showcase for her vocal abilities the way "Dream a Little Dream" or "When I Fall In Love" are. Instead it's a testament to Day's ability to inhabit the material. Where she's both mother and child -- and all realist -- in "Que Sera Sera" Day plays the wholly self-aware woman who is both confident and stupidly in love in "Everybody Loves a Lover."

It's an almost Bugs Bunny-like performance culminating in Day's round-style duet with herself. She found a guy she loves who loves her back and has no qualms floating by the rest of us, flaunting her luck and (subversively) the hint of the skills she employed to snag her man.


[courtesy of VinylNostalgia]

Sunday, March 30, 2014

It was an honor to walk with you, sir.

Charlie 1998 - 2014
aka Lord Charlemagne, aka King Charles I

Saturday, March 8, 2014

TL;DR -- Triggers Everywhere and Mystic, Mythic Percussion

We offer two wildly different articles to read and discuss at cocktail parties. Understand that if bringing up either of these things gets you crossed of the list for future invitations to social gatherings, your friends were probably horrible people.

First comes the heavy lifting via Jenny Jarvie's thoughtful piece "Trigger Happy" from New Republic. Jarvie discusses the increasing use of "trigger warnings" not just in journalism, editorial and other writing (especially on the Web), but in casual language as well, especially on college campuses.

The Typing Monkey agrees with Jarvie that the over-use and often incorrect application of the idea of trigger warnings, is and will have the opposite intended effect.

Trigger warnings are fast becoming the new frontier of political correctness in the worst possible way. We call it the tumblrizing of pop media -- a world where, if we were to retrofit everything for trigger warnings, a sitcom such as All In the Family would come with a one because there's a blowhard racist white guy in it and he might shout at some point or use hurtful language.

***

To soften that get-off-my-lawn anger check out "Was Stonehenge a Giant XYLOPHONE?" [caps theirs] from the UK's Express. Jane Wharton's writing doesn't match the hyperbole of the headline, thankfully. The whole thing is speculation based on one detail regarding the properties of the stones used to create the prehistoric monument. But it's fun to think about.


[Dan Savage alerted us to the trigger warning article. The Fortean Times led us to the Stonehenge bit.]

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Friday, February 28, 2014

Free Music: Aleph Null

Heavy metal has more subgenres than any reasonable person can keep up with. Tastes at The Typing Monkey offices skew toward the blues-based stuff from the '70s, the NWOBHM, and the nearly self-explanatory genres: doom, stoner and sludge.

It's within those last three that Düsseldorf, Germany trio Aleph Null operate. The trio can blast out riffs heavier than a bison's balls during mating season -- the classic Black Sabbath devil's chord blooze that's been the cornerstone of metal since the 1970s. And they can pull it all back to fuzzy, lingering drones that build the kind of tension that is a hallmark of doom metal. Throw in the shredded, grunge-style vocals and kids, you've got a winner.

We call your attention to Aleph Null not only because they're a good band with a strong sense of dynamics and mood, but because so far, every recording they've made is offered up for free download via their Bandcamp site. And their new LP Nocturnal is a bruiser.

If you're doom/stoner/sludge-curious, you can't beat free, and Aleph Null isn't a bad place to start. Play "Black Winged Cherub" for a taste:


We admit that Nocturnal didn't bowl us over as immediately as their previous EP Belladonna (2013). The four tracks on that collection sound looser and a little more cosmic to our ears. Check out "Solar Sail" to hear the contrast:


If you like what you hear, Aleph Null says download it, people, for this music is like Jesus' love. It is ours to accept. And if this sort of brain-melting sound pleases you, enjoy your wanderings around the Web to seek out more of the same. Many doom/stoner/sludge metal bands offer "pay what you can" downloads, so do that. And buy a t-shirt.

Stonerobixx and Doommantia, are two great websites dedicated to these subgenres. And we'd be remiss not to mention the late, great Cosmic Hearse blog, our gateway into most of this stuff.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Experimental Music on Children's TV

We're going to be visiting this blog regularly. Join us.




[Once again, thank you, James Barnes.]

Are You Ready to Ragnarok?

Remember back in Nov 2013, we alerted you to the Norse historical and mythology enthusiast in England who, per their calculations, predicted that Ragnarok was near, so they blew a ceremonial horn to mark the approaching end? No?

Then the Awful Fight Began
by George Wright, 1908
Oh well. It won't matter anyway because Feb 22 the fall of Asgard begins. That is, assuming the predicted date is correct. Hurry up and read about it. We haven't much time.

***

Bonus Bigfoot News!

Since we're all doomed, let's take a moment and embrace the snake-oil charm of self-proclaimed Bigfoot hunter Rick Dyer's touring show. To sum up: Dyer claims he killed a Sasquatch two years ago. He preserved the body and is now touring the United States, charging a fee to those who want to take a peek at the beast.

We could be offended at Dyer's claim. There's no chance of it passing the typical baloney detecting questions. But if Dyer wants to revive the medicine show to make a few buck off of believers and non-believers alike, why waste the energy? The Typing Monkey would put good money on the possibility that Dyer's story becomes a musical in a couple years.


Monday, February 3, 2014

Witch Fight!

Anybody with their compass pointed in the right direction knows that Feb 2, 2014 was Imbolc. Yes, it was also Groundhog Day and the day the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl.

While most of us were either tuning into the game, or doing anything else, spring -- real spring, not that Gregorian calendar impostor due in March -- quietly stepped onto the season cycle and began pedaling.

And we get it: It's ugly cold out across North America and throughout the Northern hemisphere nobody's about to step outside in tank top and sandals to sip iced tea and feel the sun's heat.

But do go out when you can and have a look around. Trees and bushes are budding. Bulb flowers are rocketing through the soil, arms of defiant green reaching for daylight that grows longer each evening.

We don't report this in a desperate grab for anything to stave off winter gray. We share this old world information because if you relax and let it in, the feeling of spring is there. Nature is waking up.

Here are two versions of a song written and made famous by Scotsman Donovan. The test of good songcraft is how well a composition holds up to different interpretations. The original has the nip of autumn about it that, when combined with the chorus, recalls October.

But Lou Rawls and his band find the Hammond B3 funk under the pile of leaves and loosen the tune up, adding considerable warmth:

[courtesy of marmalade166]

While Super Session takes it further still, opening the song up into a lengthy California stoner jam that skews closer to simmering blues and jazz while still landing, like Rawls, on the secret funk rhythm that has always been the backbone of the song:

[courtesy of jaquenuno]

Neither of these has anything to do with the Imbolc, but we dig 'em and used this post as an excuse to share. Happy spring to you.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

24 Frames Per Second

"Film and digital are different mediums; they make different cinema and different art. They have their own unique disciplines, image structures and visual qualities. Their co-existence is essential to keep diversity and richness in our moving image vocabulary. The ascendance of one does not have to mean the capitulation of the other, unless we allow this to happen."

This quotation is from Guillermo Navarro ASC, A.M.C., whose new organization SaveFilm.org is working to get film, the traditional media of the cinema, UNESCO status so that it can be preserved and continue to thrive as a medium.

His request is pretty simple and his logic is airtight. A growing binary attitude infects our thinking about media in the digital age. If it's not zeroes and ones, it should go away. But we didn't kill all the horses when cars became the more common mode of transportation in the Western world. We didn't take a photograph of the Mona Lisa and burn the painting when cameras emerged.

The world is not black and white, and our media choices should reflect that. Film deserves our efforts to keep it alive. We signed the petition, and wouldn't ask you to do the same if we didn't think it mattered. All that was required was an e-mail confirmation.

Click?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

NSFW

As a reward for all the reading we've made you do, here's a video that's rather filthy, but in a very funny way. It's probably best viewed in a non-work environment. Unless you work somewhere that doesn't mind cartoons that suggest trashy European softcore cinema from decades past.


Michel Homm from simon landrein on Vimeo.


You dirty monkey! You watched the whole thing, didn't you? Good. Now read this oral history of the creation of Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back" video and write a three-page report tonight as homework. Discuss the themes of the piece, alternate perspectives on feminine beauty, and the idea that rhythm has replaced melody in popular song.


[An artful wiggle to the NSFW site This Isn't Happiness and Vulture.]

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Six

Tuesday Jan 21, 2014 was The Typing Monkey's sixth anniversary ... or birthday? What do you call the day that marks another year of blogging into the wind? Right. "Pointless." Very good.

[At this point in the conversation, our intern Kim was asked to clock out for the day. "Clock out? I don't even get paid," he said. Kim. Kim, c'mon. -- ed.]

To celebrate, we punish you with links culled from Arts & Letters Daily, our ongoing source of quality journalism, editorials and critical thinking that helps us remember there's more to this technology than bewbs and horror movie trailers.

"We need to talk about TED" by Benjamin Bratton
... in which a man gives a TED talk that points out everything wrong with TED talks. It's like he's saying what we're thinking.

"No, Jane Austen Was Not a Game Theorist" by William Deresiewicz 
... a call to resist and reject the post-Freakonomics/Gladwell trend in literary and art criticism to assert that modern, often trendy, scientific theories and ideas are the real themes and subtexts of many great works of art, history be damned.

"The Paratext's the Thing" by Thomas Doherty
"The irritating distractions have morphed into the main attractions."

Perhaps the thematic thread that connects these editorials is just in our imagination. But  we think they're complementary.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Freedom, and Then What?

Slate published Linda Rodriguez McRobbie's piece "The Real Victims of Satanic Ritual Abuse" on Jan 7. It's the story of Frances and Dan Keller's release from prison in Texas. They were convicted of child abuse in 1992 -- symbolically, there were jailed for taking part in Satanic ritual abuse.

Never share a seat on the bus again
They're free because the charges, the trial and most of the media coverage, were entirely lies. The endless pursuit of the truth from a local news reporter, and some patient lawyers, finally helped get the Kellers, now divorced, released from prison after a successful appeal.

The Typing Monkey recommends the book Satanic Panic: The Creation of a Contemporary Legend by Jeffrey S. Victor if you'd like to read about the religious fervor/group think nightmare in the United States that began in the 1970s and reached a fever pitch by the late '80s and early '90s.

As McRobbie says in her Slate article: The real victims were those accused. We'd add to that the poor kids that were coached, cajoled and probably psychologically damaged by being forced to repeat (and imagine) what adults wanted to believe was happening. And what they believed is, frankly, unbelievable.

We sincerely hope both of the Kellers can find some peace and a path to resuming something resembling a normal life.