Monday, August 29, 2011
I'm sure you all remember this series of commercials (and I apologize now for the video quality there), but did you ever think about the actual music being used?
Here's a better copy:
Yoshida Brothers - "Kodo" [Inside the Sun Remix]
In the spirit of the theremin post from a few months ago, tonight's post is about the samisen.
It is an awesome instrument.
I just wanted to get some more Yoshida Brothers in here, so you could see what it looks like when they play.
Hiromitsu Agatsuma is another contemporary artist, whom I first heard on NPR. Sadly, I think this track has a very "smooth jazz" sound to it, so I'm slightly put off. It's still some very impressive playing.
The work he's done with piano player Satoru Shionoya is more impressive.
Yoko Nagayama is serious business. Also, Mt. Fuji is more impressive when you have a Palin-do.
Slightly off-topic...I know those aren't samisen but erhu, but I just like the band and the song. Also, this needs to be the opening credits for an anime like, yesterday.
Let's start all classical on this and look at Takahashi Chikuzan. He lost his sight at around age two from measles before becoming a live-in apprentice of the Tsugaru-jamisen performer Toda Jūjirō near his home town.
If you make a Hoichi the Earless joke about this, I will hunt you down.
Screw classical, let's have some fun with it! (Oddly, this is what got me on a samisen kick in the first place.)
Hear that saxophone? That's the 80s.
I might sleep better tonight.
Finally, I leave you with this, which is not an actual samisen, but a moog imitation. It's from Tomita's cover of Holst's "The Planets" and it's a good track to close out on.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Dallas Police say:
The suspect is seen entering the store wearing what appears to be a black and white flower dress with white boots. His face is also covered with what appears to be under garments. He demands money from the cashier and a patron while holding what could possibly be a gun under the dress. He then flees the store in an unknown direction. The suspect is described as a white male, 5'05" and weighing 145 lbs.The DPD Robbery Unit can be contacted via (214) 671-3464.
In the meantime, it looks like the economy is bad enough to bring out the worst in some people. Or their best. Hard to tell.
Monday, August 15, 2011
"With your help, we can continue to work on this important project and hopefully complete it later this year. $10,000 is the bare minimum we need to move forward, but we hope to raise a lot more. I’ve never worked on a project like this before. It’s far more costly, time consuming, and difficult than I ever anticipated. Even a small pledge of $5 or $10 will help us, so if you’re a fan of animation, please consider supporting this project."
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Celebrate 20 years with a look at the pilots that made NICKTOONS!
Created by Jim Jinkins
Created by Arlene Klasky, Gabor Csupo and Paul Germain
REN & STIMPY
Created by John Kricfalusi
BONUS: REJECTED NICKTOON PILOT!
Created by Joey Ahlbum & Marc Catapano
For more interesting reading...
The Birth of Nicktoons (ToonZone Forum)
The Initial Reaction To Nicktoons In 1991
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
Dangerous Minds had a post a while back about the film Private Life of a Cat, an "intimate observation of two cats", created by Alexander Hammid in 1947.
They have since removed the post, for some inexorable reason, which is a shame because it had such a lovely soundtrack.
I was reminded of this because of a BBC story about a cache of silent film music.
It's easy to forget that these silent films actually had soundtracks, played live during the film. I was reminded of this back on '05, when I spoke at great length with Phillip York about theremins and his upcoming album Rudolph Valentino: He Sings and Other Sing About Him.
And anyone can make a playlist for a silent film. Anyone else want to take a crack at the above film? Let us know and we'll post it.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
What creeps me out the most about this is the eyes. It's very cute, but it's creepy.
Part two: frogs are dicks.
Part three: rain-clouds are dicks; also, nifty moment at 6:00.
You can also get flip-books that feature some scenes from this cartoon. They are so cute!
The Internet is all about cat videos.
Watching the bear shout made me laugh all day.
In color and twice as cute.
I feel a little gross watching this, but I feel that way about most of Princess Knight.
Girl's lacrosse to the rescue!
Hello, pretty kitty.
Aw, no trailer. You'll just have to watch the whole movie, and Catnapped is a romp.
I wanted to post this clip from Unico, but embedding was disabled. Here's a song about a cat to hold its place. Anyone who owns a cat should know the truth of this song.
Midnight on the Galactic Railroad was the first VHS tape I bought for myself when I started making more than $10/hr and it will always take me back to that time. It's slow and meditative and a good way to spend a rainy afternoon. In the novel by Kenji Miyazawa, the main characters are not cats, but it's an interesting change.
Kenji Miyazawa was a brilliant writer, and Spring and Chaos is a mess of a film with wonderful visuals. It was a valiant effort.
Now, turn off the lights, go full screen, and have a tissue handy.
Thank you, kitty.
Unable to afford therapy, Mark creates his own by building a 1/6-scale World War II-era town in his yard and populating it with dolls representing himself, his friends, and even his attackers. He rehabilitates his physical wounds by manipulating the small dolls and props — and his mental ones by having the figures act out various battles and stories.---from the Wikipedia article
This is not an easy film to watch because it's a story about a man bringing himself back to life. I would suggest watching by yourself. It's a private story and your reactions should be kept private.
And you will react. It seems silly to watch a grown man play with dolls, but it's what he does with them, how he treats them, that makes the story. Those aren't dolls. That's him, his wife, and the things that gave him comfort.
I admit, I felt kinda gross about halfway through. There was someone's life laid bare and I was looking at it.
But here I am, recommending it.
I do so because it is an important film. People can change. Mark used to be an alcoholic and now, he won't even give the stuff a second look.
He also used to be a very talented artist, and you see that in his old diaries. You also see he was very troubled and upset. His diaries and drawings were used in evidence against the men who beat him, to show what they had taken from him.
But watching it, and this is the part that disgusts me, it seems they took a lot of pain from him. They took away questions and confusion. I'm not going to say that Mark is not in any pain, or that he isn't confused, but it seems less pervasive in his town than it was in his diaries. Mark wonders what kind of person he was. We wonder what kind of person he was. You get the feeling he wasn't someone you'd want to meet.
This was very difficult for me to watch because I'm terrified of brain injuries. Nothing scares me more than the knowledge that a baseball bat or a knitting needle can change who you are. It reminds me how delicate we are.
But, Mark's story is also about how resilient we are. He's not just some guy in a corner drooling on himself; he decided to be a human being again and took a--admittingly strange--way to get that back. Even if "Mark" wasn't going to make it back, Mark was.
So, in the end, it's hopeful and inspiring. He rebuilt himself, maybe a little better than before, and showed us all that it could be done. He's charming and insightful and cares about the people around him.
And I would not half-mind meeting him, this self-made man.
What I was really looking for was the 1951 film Rhubarb, about a cat who inherits a baseball team. Instead, I found this.
You'll notice these are narrated by Richard Briers, who played Tom Good on Good Neighbors (The Good Life in the UK). He was also the voice of Fiver in Watership Down.
I'd post more, but you can just visit the You Tube channel where I found them, as he has a lot of those, as well as some "Mr. Benn" cartoons.
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
Monday, August 08, 2011
Long ago, my dad was part of a group that went to Mainland China (not Taiwan). One of the many fantastic things he brought back was a collection of English-language children's books. Havoc in Heaven was one of them.
I read the book over and over as a kid. I knew there was a movie of it, but I figured I would never see it because it was in China and I was in the States.
I love living in the future.
The Monkey King comes from the classic text Journey to the West. His name in the text is Sun Wukong, but we're just going to call him Monkey King.
Part of why the Monkey King has to help a monk get scriptures from India is that he rebelled against heaven. Granted, he kicked ass.
Jamie has actually done an opera for this and it's live action.
I look forward to the DVD. I hope it's subtitled in English.
You might have noticed that Monkey King had a couple buddies in that last piece. This is where they came from. And THAT is from the show...
MONKEY MAGIC. Drink in the 70s goodness.
As live-action goes, MONKEY wasn't as bad as some of the other versions that have come out.
There is worse out there.
Monkey King had many adventures, some in Italian.
We're pretty sure there's a new version of the Monkey King every year.
And to think, it's all about a monk getting new Buddhist texts because he thought he had a crummy translation. That's a pretty geeky reason to have something so cool.
And no, I am not going to talk about GODDAMNED DRAGON DALL.
Sunday, August 07, 2011
Friday, August 05, 2011
Thursday, August 04, 2011
Tuesday, August 02, 2011
This trailer has absolutely nothing to do with the movie I just watched.
And here's the theme song that represents the nadir of Allan Sherman's career. It-- as well*--has nothing to do with the movie.
My Son the Vampire (and you can follow that link and actually watch it), is listed as a horror film for reasons that escape me. It tries its best to be a comedy, as it comes from a long list of Old Mother Riley films.
So! The plot. sigh... Bela Lugosi plays "The Vampire", who isn't even a real vampire but a mad scientist. His grand scheme is radio-controlled robots that look a lot like bad Halloween costumes. We meet him via a photo at New Scotland Yard, which by now has lost all credibility.
The damsel in distress is played by Maria Mercedes. Tell me that name isn't dancing in Vegas right now. We see her get off a boat and shoved into a car. We won't see her again for some time, so who cares?
But the star of the show is Old Mother Riley, a stereotype played by a man in drag (Arthur Lucan). About fifteen minutes into watching this, I realized I was watching a proto-Jim Carey. Riley is being hassled by the rent-collector and the audio switches to a phonograph played on set while everyone lip-synchs to "Tweet tweet, now now, shush shush, come come."
She gets a telegram. The rent-man demands she open it and she says she can't because it isn't sealed. (That's actually a pretty funny exchange.) It's good news! Her uncle has died and left her everything. This is very important.
Back to Bela's place and the scullery-maid is making goo-goo eyes at a local cop. Bela’s in the basement, mixing up the medicine. Cop's on the pavement, thinking about the government. The man in the trench coat....ahem.
Bela's talking about his super-duper robot and how it's being shipped from their secret lab. It's going to be really cool when it shows up, and the FedEx site says it's "in transit", so it should arrive any minute now. He even took the day off from work so he'd be home when they knock (they never do).
This is how the two crates get switched. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL POST OFFICE.
As a result of these shenanigans, Bela gets Riley's inheritance and she gets his robot. Remember, comedy is about confusion.
Bela discovers a letter in the crate of crap and figures out his robot has been delivered to the wrong address. Luckily, the robot is active and radio controlled, so he calls it home. He also decides the robot needs to haul in Ms. Riley as well, because she's seen it. Nothing is said of the other people who were there, but Bela didn't know about them.
The robot shoves Ms. Riley in a sack and waves down a passing drunk-driver who gives him a lift. The robot and the drunk somehow switch places and the robot drops the drunk off at his posh flat. Stolen car = minor plot point.
Bela decides that Ms. Riley is the right blood-type and she is force-fed liver and steak. The scullery-maid says it's all very odd and some Ronnie Barker wannabe giggles. This is really the low-point of the film.
"Mummies" are delivered to Bela's house, and we figure that these are the dried-up bodies of several missing girls. One of the mummies is the Maria Mercedes (I'm telling you, that name has rhinestones all over it) and Ms. Riley is shocked into jumping through a window, stealing a bicycle, and going to the police.
Guess who she runs into? It's the drunk, reporting his car stolen and he does a spit-take all over her. Because of this, she stinks of gin when she tries to report the kidnapped girl. The cops try to arrest her for being drunk and disorderly and she manages to give them the slip, running back to Bela's house to rescue the girl.
Oh yeah, Maria has a boyfriend who is hit on the head no less than five times during this film. Each time he's hit on the head, he loses consciousness. I know it's a movie, but in real life, if that had happened to anyone, he'd be playing with dolls to get his motor skills back.
There is much running around in secret chambers and throwing of vases. Bela and his baddies escape in a car to go to the ship that Maria had disembarked at the start of the film because the SECRET PLANS are in the purser's safe.
Ms. Riley has a fight with the robot and wins through the clever application of a screwdriver. She saves the girl. Mr. Head-trauma shows and and the young lovers kiss. We will never see them again.
Ms. Riley steals a cop-car and chases after the bad-guys. She wrecks the car and steals another bicycle, then crashes into a guy on a motorcycle and steals that from him. He's so rattled from the accident, he gets on the bike and pedals away.
Meanwhile, cops show up at the ship and shoot everyone. Ms. Riley does an Evel Knievel up the boat-ramp and the jump is so mind-blowing, she turns into a dummy that is thrown into the ocean.
NOW, having said all that, it will--in no way--ruin the film for you. This is not about story but style.
The Old Mother Riley films were an extension of music hall entertainment, which is not a very strong tradition here, State-side. There are some very corny sight-gags that might remind you of old Warner Brothers cartoons, but there is, actually, some very funny writing.
I found the slide-whistle effect a little tiresome and the wooden-block sound each time someone is hit on the head (which is many) seems childish. Yes, we can see that someone got hit on the head. Do you have to make that sound?
It reminds me a lot of watching old Three Stooges films or Laurel and Hardy. The broad movements of the style really play to the back row. I could see enjoying these as a kid and getting wistful remembering them.
According to imdb.com, this was the only film in the "Old Mother Riley" series in which Arthur Lucan's longtime partner and wife, Kitty McShane, did not appear as Mrs Riley's daughter. Lucan and McShane had a very bitter separation in 1951.
So there's that.
I watched this so you don't have to.
*Yes, I know the grammar on that is weird. Thank you.