kip_w: (miner)
So may I direct your attention instead to the New Pals Club Web-Log? The link opens in a new window, and there you will find, posted just today, a musicalogical 'close reading' of The Pink Panther, and a meditation (also from today) on solo string performances of much larger pieces. Going back further, we find articles on a 1930s cartoon where Willie Whopper goes to Hell (probably in response to viewer mail), verses, original fiction, and of course, The Toon River Anthology.

Best of all, comments are enabled. You too can add your voice to the torrent of excited conversation that… oh, hell, nobody ever comments, okay? In eight years, I've had fifty comments, and half of them are, of necessity, by me. Anyway, there it is. If you've wondered what I do besides tweet, work, go to school, and stare at the ceiling, this is it.
kip_w: (tree)
Comics Curmudgeon reader "Shrug" today dropped a bombshell:
I’ve got to say that I too was skeptical about the world ending in 2012 because the Mayan calendar didn’t contain data for any subsequent years, but I just looked closely at the new “California Scenery” calendar we got for Christmas and have now hung up on the bulletin board, and to my horror I find that IT ALSO STOPS AT THE END OF 2012!!!!

Horrified, I ran down to my local Barnes and Noble and checked out the large calendar selection there, and so far as I can see all of them also fail to contain any significant data for a year subsequent to 2012!!! IT’S NOT JUST THE MAYANS!!!
I suggest we all make peace with our loved ones and put our affairs in order. Oh, and happy new year, everybody!
kip_w: (Default)
There were so many cheery, upbeat songs in the Depression. And there were some downbeat ones as well. This is the best one I know that's zippy, sarcastic and bitter. Ask me to play and sing this for you next time we meet. I've always wanted to see Shirley Temple sing, dance, and dimple her way through this one:

(Note: link to Eddie Cantor's performance is at the bottom!)

Say, business is punk
And Wall Street is sunk.
We're all of us broke
And ready to croak.
We've nothing to dunk
Can't even get drunk
And all the while they tell us
To smile...

Cheer up, peaceful citizens
Though you have no shirts;
Happy times are here again --
Cheer up! Smile! Nerts!
All aboard, Prosperity;
Giggle 'til it hurts!
No more breadline charity --
Cheer up! Smile! Nerts!

Cheer up! Cheer up! Cheeeeer up!
Cheer up! Cheer
Up! Cheer up! Cheer up! Cheer
Better times are near!
Sunny smilers we must be,
The optimist asserts --
Let's hang the fathead to a tree!
Cheer up! Smile! NERTS!

The world's in the red.
We're better off dead.
Depression, they say
'S in session to stay
Our judges are queer.
Our banks disappear --
And all the while they tell us to smile.


Eddie Cantor with Phil Spitalny and his Music

reposted from New Pals
kip_w: (1971)
I've raved before about the 1960 Bell Telephone Hour recording of "The Mikado" in which Groucho Marx plays Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner of Titipu. Thanks to one of my pals here, I even have a copy of it.

For those who don't, I'll just say again that the first time I heard this, I thought it must have been re-written for Mr. Marx, when, in fact, it was not changed one bit. The show was carved down to an hour -- minus time for breaks and such -- by the expedient of trimming away much of what didn't directly concern Mr. Marx. I believe I approve, since it's always possible to find a complete performance, but how often can one get the chance to hear such an inspired bit of casting?

It is now possible for others to get the recording, in 320kbps mp3 files, from ReDiscovery, a music vendor who specializes in rescuing obscure classical performances and selling them at budget prices. This is in their "Paperback Classics" series, and is offered free of charge. Dang!

The company also reissues some of the "Basic Library of the World's Great Classics," which used to sell in grocery stores for a dollar, one album a week. We had a bunch of these in my house growing up, and I used to read the booklets that came bound into the box, and even listen to some of the anonymous performances. I saw the first nine releases of the collection at an estate sale last week, and had to restrain myself from buying them all again (having painfully forced myself to part with all but a tiny sample of them years ago in an effort to reduce the bulk of my records). ReDiscovery has done detective work and found out who the artists were who recorded most of them, and if you buy their records, you too will know. They're nice performances.

The link is above. Look down at the bottom of the page, and there's Groucho's doing the Mikado (with some help from Helen Traubel, Stanley Holloway, and some other people, including two guys named Gilbert and Sullivan). You'll be taken to a download page where you'll need to click on the two parts (side one and side two, I'll wager) to go to yet another page that will finally give you this wonderful recording. The link in this paragraph will tell you more about the cast and so forth. If anybody out there ever finds a video copy of it, please let me know.

If you've never heard this classic tale of love and decapitation, this is a splendid introduction. And if you like it, do what they always advised at the end of every Classics Illustration adaptation and go out and get the whole thing. The parts they cut out are as good as what they left in. Go.
kip_w: (Default)
[The scenario has just described a brief subliminal of Chaplin being chased around a corner by a cop as The Bomb is dropped. We see the worldwide devastation from a great altitude, then the camera pans down to ground level, and...]

He is back to the camera, hunched deeply over, in a tinily narrow alley between two buildings. A rigid forefinger is still jammed in each ear. He is still motionless; frozen.

He comes up as slowly, timorously, tremulously out of his crouch (fingers in each ear pulling timidly away), as a grass-blade recovering, which has just been stepped on. Straightens, still back to camera; and starts straightening his legs and arms inside clothes, and the clothes themselves, turning very slowly, face close to camera, staring into it. He continues to straighten his clothes, going over them very carefully ... polishing toes of shoes on calves of pants; sleeving his derby and resetting it with care on his head; testing his cane: then a sudden trembling shrug (involving a full check-over of body as well as clothes), which is a blend of what a suddenly dampened dog does, and of the feather-adjustments of a suddenly rumpled hen. Then very delicately and timidly, camera withdrawing, he advances, and sticks his snout around the corner of a building, and peers.
The rough screenplay continues with the post-nuclear-holocaust adventures of Charlie Chaplin, at first alone, then with others, then with scientists, and finally alone again.

It's presented in Chaplin and Agee: The Untold Story of the Tramp, the Writer, and the Lost Screenplay, by John Wranovics. I have to confess that I found the biographical material leading up to the screenplay (here arbitrarily titled "The Tramp's New World") to be more interesting than the screenplay, overall, though the typescript has some interesting bits in it. The part following this, of Chaplin's interactions with the fixed shadows of the vanished citizens of the city, is particularly effective. If it had been made -- if Agee hadn't died when he did, and if Chaplin had shown an interest -- they would have had to lose an awful lot of what Agee worked so hard to include. It's like Alan Moore at his most specific, only he's groping for something that hasn't come into focus yet. An early draft, it's replete with multiple apologies for the roughness, and shows a willingness to compromise some of the details if need be. I'll wager he'd have done a better job on it if it had become a real project, based on his screenplay for the original Night of the Hunter.

I'd cut most of the prologue, which seems to kill the movie before the bomb does. Agee probably should have made his contribution a skeleton at that stage, keeping such bits as the introduction of the Tramp (quoted from above), and perhaps others. I confess that I was not only starting to doze in the comfy chair as I plowed to the finish today, I even started to skip through paragraphs, looking at the first sentence and then jumping ahead.

But it's still interesting. It'd be interesting to let Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have at it, for instance.

Anyway, I finished it just in time. It goes back to the library tomorrow. I saw a used copy at Barnes & Noble, and had Cathy get it on Interlibrary Loan to save $7.

I'm trying an experiment, and cross-posting this to my 'New Pals Club Web-log.' In future, the word "blog" in the tag will signify further attempts to breathe life into that moribund conceit.

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