Would you like to be a cartoonist like me?
You can’t. Sorry. Not even if you paid me to train you. It won’t happen.
In the 1970s, children’s television was heavily occupied by a presence that’s nearly forgotten today; an artifact from the opening credits of a slapstick detective franchise, called the Pink Panther.
If you were a kid in the 1980s, the sight of that character reminded you of a piece of Henry Mancini’s distinctive score. This is the Pink Panther Problem.
In the 1960s, there were two unusual homesteads on television. One was monstrous, the other creepy and spooky. Both had excellent opening titles music.
The Munsters was easy to comprehend, for the most part; it was a show about a family of classic movie monsters (hence the pun). Father Herman was the great Fred Gwynne dolled up as a friendly Frankenstein’s monster; wife Lily and Grandpa were vampires. Son Eddie (Butch Patrick) was the wolf-boy, with a prominent widow’s-peak that ensured I would be humiliatingly likened to him, and daughter Marilyn was the freak, with no monstrous qualities whatsoever. They all lived in a spooky mansion on 1313 Mockingbird Lane. Who knew or cared about the genetics involved in such a lineage? Continue reading
I don’t know why people are sad about the Great Deathwave of 2016. It’s a remarkable opportunity to make a stranger’s life all about yourself.
When a celebrity dies, you now own them. You can take the life’s work of someone you never encountered and reduce it to a personal inspiration. You can interpret their efforts as empowerment for your own agendas. Oh, and you can cherry-pick the qualities of their persona that you agree with, and ignore everything else. A corpse will never call your bluff. Continue reading
Lao Che (1885-19??) was a Chinese crime lord, who made several attempts on the life of archaeologist Indiana Jones in the 1930s.
Lao’s nightclub, the Club Obi-Wan, was a front, and the headquarters of his criminal empire. The Manchurian government hired Lao to secure an urn holding the cremains of the first Manchu emperor, which had been stolen by thieves in 1903. Jones brought the urn to Club Obi-Wan, trading it with Lao for a huge diamond, but Lao double-crossed Jones by poisoning his drink. Thus begins a thrilling action sequence as pandemonium and balloons overtake the club, while Jones flails to recover the antidote Lao had taunted him with. Continue reading
Sampling in hip-hop is important because it can send you backward in time, when it’s done well. It’s crate-digging shared on wax. The best samples offer a window into the mind of the producer, and a peek at the most obscure records in their vault. Since legally all sources must be credited, you can check the liners and draw up a shopping list. The torch of the turntable is carried on.
And oftentimes, forgotten geniuses of the past get their due.
There’s an unspoken rule in hip-hop culture; it’s based in appropriation, so it’s all about forging something fresh out of a juxtaposition of elements. A sample is looped over a beat by a DJ, before the MC begins to rap. The right samples are crucial; they provide the hook of tonal immortality.
The handsome gent in the photo above is David McCallum. He is the most widely-heard yet unknown dude in rap music.
It’s 2016, and I can tell you’re not ready. The last twelve months really added wear and tear. You’ll have to do more than make resolutions you won’t keep, if you’re gonna roll through another year. I’m here to help, though. I’ve taken a good look under your hood, and I think I see the issue. It’s not a problem yet per se, but it could seriously affect your performance in the coming days.
Let me break it down for you.
It’s a modern fallacy that the oeuvre of Don Van Vliet, more commonly known to the world as Captain Beefheart, is impenetrable. As with many worthwhile pursuits, the point of introduction is crucial. Most people who bristle at Beefheart simply haven’t been ushered in the right direction.
Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa were high school buddies with a shared love of R&B, in particular Howlin’ Wolf, whom Don loved to imitate. Don had a girlfriend named Laurie, whom his pervy uncle would sexually harass by flashing her as she walked past the bathroom; he would squeeze the end of his schlong and muse “ah, look at that. Looks like a big, fine beef heart.” Thus, a legend was born.