Monday, December 30, 2013

21st Century Short Film Pays Tribute To Georges Méliès


Since we at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog are pleased as pomegranates to support indie filmmakers, we this fundraiser for producer/director Stephanie Stender. The following teaser for La Sirene, her short film inspired by the early cinema of illusionist Georges Méliès, demonstrates visual flair and an imaginative, stylish approach.



La Sirene, starring Boston burlesque star Lolli Hoops (among several fetching mermaids), is a homage to silent movies as well as to pioneering filmmaker Méliès.



The fundraiser expires tomorrow. It is the hope of Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog that La Sirene will be just the first of many films by Stephanie and Doorstop Productions.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Toons Around The World: Czechoslovakia



Europe, since the days when the visionary Ladislaw Starewicz was cranking out positively amazing work, before World War I, first in Russia, then later in France, has remained a veritable creamy center of stop-motion animation goodness. One of the art's very finest practitioners was Czechoslovakian puppet animation innovator Jiří Trnka. Here's his WW2 classic, Springman Vs. The S.S.





Another stop-motion master from Czechoslovakia was the great Karel Zeman.



There's nothing like some gorgeous stop-motion wizardry to that pesky post-holiday letdown to a screeching halt! Zeman's classic feature, The Fabulous World Of Jules Verne exemplifies the 1950's stop-motion boom that also included Joop Geesink's Dollywood animation, the wondrous fantasy films (and Dynamation) of Ray Harryhausen and George Pal's science fiction features.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

What Would Christmas Be Without. . . THE HAPPY SOLSTICE SONG?



Intrepid composer, bandleader and multi-instrumentalist Ralph Carney has written a holiday ditty Mr. Blogmeister likes infinitely better than Santa Claus Is Coming To Town or that irritating Frosty The Snowman here, THE HAPPY SOLSTICE SONG! Take it, Ralph!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What Would Christmas Be Without - RAYMOND SCOTT?


As far as Mr. Blogmeister goes, the shopping mega-malls, department stores and big box monstrosities can all go commit a physically impossible sexual act, since this 2013 Christmas season, The Raymond Scott Archives is offering SUCH-A-DEAL involving Scott's classic Manhattan Research, Inc. album.


The groundbreaking album features Mr. Scott playing electronic instruments he designed, with Dorothy Collins on vocals. Did Brian Eno and Pere Ubu's Allen Ravenstine hear this album?



I'll listen to Manhattan Research with pleasure, wonder if Ray had coffee with Morton Subotnick and/or Frank Zappa and extend a tip of the Jack Buchanan-Fred Astaire-Jimmie Hatlo top hat to Raymond Scott archivist and keeper of the Powerhouse flame Jeff E. Winner.



And I'll also watch this clip!



THIS AND ALL RAYMOND SCOTT ALBUMS, plus a few days to get away from it all with Madame Blogmeister (that means the inevitable mandatory viewings of Cockeyed Cavaliers Bogey and Eddie Robinson in Brother Orchid (puncuated by gratuitous Eddie G. Robinson impersonations), preceded by the Leo n' Charley comedy masterpiece Mighty Like A Moose, AND a chance for me personally to live another day reasonably healthy plus at least one moment in 2014 of Peace On Earth - is what Your Correspondent wants for Christmas.



Monday, December 16, 2013

What Would Christmas Be Without . . . The Funhouse Mirror Number From DAMSEL IN DISTRESS?



The following production number from A Damsel In Distress pretty much encapsulates everything I love about 1930's musicals and movies in general. While the video transfer here is definitely a tad on the muddy side, this scene sends Mr. Blogmeister into sheer delight every time, Take it, Fred, George and Gracie!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

What Would Christmas Be WIthout. . . FILM NOIR?


As an antidote to syrupy, smarmy, cloying, unbearably heartwarming holiday "entertainment", the Noir City festival, Eddie Muller and the intrepid historians/archivists of the Film Noir Foundation present this hard-boiled holiday double bill, straight, no chaser, at San Francisco's iconic Castro Theatre.



Allen Baron, the writer-director-star of Blast Of Silence, will be there in person!





The Noir City festival returns with a wide-ranging international lineup, featuring pungent noir nuggets from Argentina, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Mexico, Norway and Spain, from January 24 - February 1, 2014.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Happy 100th Birthday, Ray Nance!


As music lovers around the world mourn the passing of guitar genius Jim Hall today, we also celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birthday of entertainer, ultra-swingin' multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Ray Nance, a.k.a. Mr. Floor Show.



For sold-out audiences around the world, Mr. Nance rocked the house with the mighty Duke Ellington Orchestra.



In the following classic clip of Duke and his killer big band playing "The Hawk Talks", Mr. Nance and his magic trumpet join in at 2:38 (after Louis Bellson's kick-ass drum solo).



Could Ray sing like Billy Eckstine or Nat King Cole? Absolutely - now listen to this!





Trumpet? Cornet? Flugelhorn? Got it!



Violin? Sure! Viola? "String Swing"? Natch!








Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog raises a toast to the great Ray Nance - we feel 100 years young just listening to him!


Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Remembering Art Clokey, Part 1


"There was nothing else like it being made in America for Americans." Henry Selick




On a very short list of films that instantaneously send Mr. Blogmeister straight to Happyland: the inventive clay animation of Art Clokey.



Art's very creative "let's see what we can do with clay, unfettered imagination and a hip soundtrack" film GUMBASIA and the earliest Gumby cartoons (from 1956-1957) rank, in this blogger's opinion, among the greatest stop-motion films ever made. Clokey had a unique and uncanny ability to combine the experimental and exploratory with pure entertainment.



The earliest Gumbys possess an expressive, beautiful and genuine quality akin to primitive art and offer a childlike sense of innocence and wonder. No film before or since has merged futurism, fantasy elements and a child's eye view of the universe quite like Clokey's Moon Trip and Gumby On The Moon.







Clokey taps into the creativity that exists in the heart and soul before, inevitably, the unimaginative, the well-meaning, the insensitive, the authority figures attempt (too often successfully) to beat it out of us.



Clokey's films, especially Gumbasia and the first series of Gumby cartoons, made in 1956-1958, express his vision and sense of wonder in a most direct and straightforward way.



In direct opposition with the gentle, good-natured ambiance that were a hallmark of the Gumby cartoons, Art Clokey's long life was filled with tragedy. Art's mother left his dad for a policeman who was renting a room from them, ran away and abandoned Art, only to reconcile decades later. Art's father died in a car accident soon afterwards. Much of this is covered in the late Robina Marchesi's documentary Gumby Dharma, which offers both a biography and a quick overview of Clokey's clay animation innovations.



In a curious stroke of luck and serendipity, Art was subsequently adopted by composer Joseph W. Clokey and his wife: both avid travelers, adventurers, endlessly curious and film nuts. When Art met Dr. Clokey's 16mm camera, a creative artist was born.



The world travels with the Clokeys were the cornerstones of Art's identity as a filmmaker.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving 2013 From Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog



A Very Happy Thanksgiving from the turkeys at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Now Out On DVD: Here's Edie - The Edie Adams Television Collection



After 50+ years, one of the great television variety shows, Here's Edie has been released today on DVD and digital formats.



First and foremost, Edie Adams was a gifted and expressive singer. If one is unaffected by Edie's performance of That's All on The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. . . well, that individual doesn't have a heart and needs to be checked for vital signs immediately!



As fate would have it, Edie Adams, the star of Wonderful Town, one of the greatest musical gals of Broadway just happened to fall in love with. . . maverick comedian, raconteur, director, writer, sight gag genius and television innovator Ernie Kovacs.



Ernie and Edie ended up working on recordings and television shows together through the 1950's.





As an intrepid troupe member on The Ernie Kovacs Show, she proved herself as outstanding as a comedienne as she was as a vocalist.



To this day, nobody has topped Edie's Marilyn Monroe impersonation.



One of Edie's greatest celluloid moments was her performance in the Kovacs On Music special.





Back to the Here's Edie and Edie Adams Show series, neither show has been seen in any format since their original broadcast in the 1960's.



Musical guest stars include Andre Previn, Lauritz Melchior, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Stan Getz, Laurindo Almeida, Spike Jones, Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman, Sammy Davis Jr., Bobby Darin, Johnny Mathis. Comedians include Bob Hope, Rowan & Martin, Soupy Sales along with her co-stars in It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World - Buddy Hackett, Dick Shawn and Terry-Thomas.



Inevitably, there will be classic Muriel Cigars commercials throughout.



Here's a classic Muriel Cigars commercial from a few years after Here's Edie and The Edie Adams Show.



Most noteworthy of all are the performances of Edie, a remarkable performer who nails everything from standards to Broadway with warmth, sensitivity and the skill of a classically trained singer.

Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog directs an extended tip of the Fred Astaire/Jimmie Hatlo top hat to Josh Mills (Edie's son, who has worked on preserving her television legacy much as she rescued tapes of the Ernie Kovacs Shows un the 1960's) for getting Here's Edie: The Edie Adams Television Collection over the goal line. Here's the lineup:

DISC ONE
Here's Edie Pilot
Airdates: April 9, 1962, May 26, 1963 (as Special #7). Guests: Dick Shawn, André Previn

Special #1 - "New York"
Airdate: October 23, 1962.
Guests: Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, Peter Falk, the Claremont String Quartet

Special #2 - "London"
Airdate: December 13, 1962
Guests: Sir Michael Redgrave, the Piccadilly Buskers, the Grenadier Guards, the Third Air Force Band, and the children of London.

Special #3 - "Bossa Nova"
Airdate: January 20, 1963
Guests: Stan Getz, Laurindo Almeida, the Roger Wagner Chorale, Jerry Fielding and His Orchestra (plus cameos by Don Rickles and Cesar Romero)

*Special #4 - "Las Vegas"
Airdate: February 26, 1963
Guests: Charlie Barnet, The Eligibles, the Earl Barton Dancers, Jerry Fielding and His Orchestra, Eddie Fisher

Special #5 - "Western"
Airdate: March 16, 1963
Guests: Hoagy Carmichael, Rowan & Martin, Hank Henry, the Homer Garrett Dancers, The Eligibles, Jerry Fielding and His Orchestra.



DISC TWO
*Special #6 - "Love"
Airdate: April 19, 1963
Guests: Buddy Hackett, The United Nations Children's Choir, Jerry Fielding and His Orchestra

Special #8 - "Bob Hope"
Airdate: June 18, 1963
Guests: Bob Hope, Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra, The United Nations Children's Choir, Jerry Fielding and His Orchestra

The Edie Adams Show (after the show returned from a summer break, it was given a new title.)

Special #1
Airdate: September 26, 1963
Guests: Zsa Zsa Gabor, Eddie Sauter, Stan Getz

Special #2
Airdate: October 10, 1963
Guests: Louis Nye, Maury Wills

Special #3 Airdate: October 24, 1963
Guests: Al Hirt, Nancy Wilson

EXTRAS
Sid Caesar and Edie Adams promos

Song performances from Ernie Kovacs shows:

  • "Would I Love You (Love You, Love You)"- Ernie in Kovacsland, July 6, 1951

  • "My Funny Valentine" - Ernie in Kovacsland, August 23, 1951

  • " 'S Wonderful" - Kovacs on the Corner, January 1952

  • "I Feel a Song Coming On" - Kovacs Unlimited, May 28, 1952

  • "Mississippi Mud" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, January 4, 1956

  • Marilyn sings "Ballad of Davy Crockett" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, January 4, 1956

  • "Paradise" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, January 23, 1956

  • "Get Happy" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, January 26, 1956

  • "A Sunday Kind of Love" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, January 30, 1956



DISC THREE
The Edie Adams Show (contd.)
Special #4
Airdate: November 7, 1963
Guests: Allan Sherman, The United Nations Children's Choir; plus regulars George Furth, Don Chastain, Peter Hanley

Special #5
Airdate: November 21, 1963 Guests: Don Chastain, John Hendricks, Lauritz Melchior, Count Basie and His Band; plus George Furth

Special #6
Airdate: December 5, 1963
Guests: Sammy Davis Jr., Mitzi McCall & Charlie Brill; plus Don Chastain, Peter Hanley

Special #7
Airdate: December 19, 1963
Guests: Rowan & Martin, André Previn; plus Don Chastain, Peter Hanley

Special #8
Airdate: January 2, 1964
Guests: Pete Fountain, Cliff Norton; plus Don Chastain, Peter Hanley

EXTRAS
Song performances from Ernie Kovacs shows:
  • "Everything I Have Is Yours" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, April 12, 1956

  • "Dancing On The Ceiling" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, April 17, 1956

  • "Chicago" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, April 20, 1956

  • "I Could Have Danced All Night" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, April 26, 1956

  • "Moritat" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, May 8, 1956

  • "Honey Bun" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, May 17, 1956

  • "Summertime" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, June 12, 1956



  • DISC FOUR
    The Edie Adams Show (contd.)
    Special #9
    Airdate: January 16, 1964
    Guests: Terry-Thomas, Spike Jones,

    Special #10
    Airdate: February 6, 1964
    Guest: Bobby Darin

    Special #11
    Airdate: February 20, 1964
    Guests: Woody Herman and His Band, Jack Sheldon, Mitzi McCall & Charlie Brill

    Special #12
    Airdate: March 5, 1964
    Guests: John Raitt, Louis Nye, Charlie Byrd, Mitzi McCall & Charlie Brill

    Special #13
    Airdate: March 18, 1964 Guests: Johnny Mathis, Soupy Sales, Alan Sues

    EXTRAS

    Muriel promotional film (1965)

    Song performances from Ernie Kovacs shows:
    • "To Keep My Love Alive" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, June 27, 1956

    • "Take Me in Your Arms" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, July 24, 1956

    • Medley: "Lullaby of Broadway" & "42nd Street" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, August 27, 1956

    Sunday, November 17, 2013

    And This Blog Loves Wes Montgomery



    Has there ever been a jazz guitar player who surpassed the musical brilliance of Wes Montgomery? Ever (yes, even right now in November 2013)?





    Well, one could argue that several - Lenny Breau and Jim Hall in particular - at least came close to equalling him, but none were better at making that guitar sing than the incomparable Wes Montgomery.





    Luckily, a fair amount of video footage of Wes exists. Here's more - enjoy.






    Saturday, November 16, 2013

    The Greatest Show On Earth: P-Funk, 1976


    Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog has found itself seriously funked-up over the few days. And why not? We feel the same way about the mighty musical juggernaut known as Parliament/Funkadelic, led by George Clinton, as this bandleader from Minneapolis.



    So, without further adieu, here's Parliament/Funkadelic, live at the Houston Summit on Halloween night, 1976. Now let's make way for The Mothership to land - enjoy!



    This Mothership Connection band may be the best of all the P-Funk lineups, and includes, among others, saxophonist Maceo Parker and trombonist Fred Wesley from James Brown's JBS.



    Mothership Connection 1976 is also among the very few P-Funk videos featuring the gifted guitarist and vocalist Glen Goins, who passed away at 24 of Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 1978.



    Although Bootsy Collins had left the band to form Bootsy's Rubber Band, his successor in Parliament/Funkadelic, the wonderful Cordell Boogie Masson, is more than up to the task of driving the P-Funk rhythm section with power and precision.



    To close out today's posting: P-Funk founder George Clinton.

    Thursday, November 14, 2013

    We Support Bootsy's "I Give A Funk" Fundraiser!



    "The ride gets smoother once u excel above the Turbulence. Take the seat belts off yr Mind." Bootsy Collins




    Shifting from animation to music at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog - we like both equally - we spotlight the great bandleader/electric bass virtuoso and heart of the Parliament/Funkadelic organization, Cincinnati's own Bootsy Collins.




    As big fans of electric bass groovemasters Bootsy, Stanley Clarke, Jaco Pastorius, Alfonso Johnson and others, we're happy to support Mr. Collins 2013-2014 tour via this Indie A Go Go fundraiser, which runs through November 16.



    Here's Bootsy's Rubber Band, tearing the roof off the sucka at the October 30, 1976 Funkjam.



    And here's Bootzilla, conjuring otherworldly sounds from his signature "Space Bass" in Germany in 1998. No doubt Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Hazel would approve.



    Having started his musical career as the 18 year old wunderkind in James Brown's JBs, Mr. Collins is not only responsible for outstanding music, but also for the good works of the Bootsy Collins Foundation.



    Now, Mr Blogmeister shall step aside - for more info on the fundraiser, Mr. Collins will take it from here. On the one!

    We are launching a Creative Arts movement called #iGIVEafunk to inspire everyone to STOP and take a moment to LISTEN to the world around them and STAND UP for what they believe in.

    For example:

    • "iGIVEafunk about. . . breast cancer awareness, and I'm taking part in a walk to raise funds and bring awareness to the cure!"
    • "iGIVEafunk about musical education, so I'm donating my time to teach the youth in my neighborhood."
    • "iGIVEafunk about the cure for Diabetes, so I'm starting with my family and teaching them the importance of balanced and healthy eating."

    "To do our part, we are going on tour, using the power of music to bring awareness to the needs of different community focused organizations in the cities we stop in. We will turn this experience into a Documentary and as part of it record a brand new live DVD and Album! After the tour is over, we will continue to spread our beliefs that the world is only lacking all of us Give'n A Funk about and taking action for what we hold as important in our individual lives. #iGIVEafunk is our chance to come together with a unified voice!"




    It's official - Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog GIVESafunk.



    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

    Toons Around The World: George Moreno Jr. And British Animated Productions



    Señor Blogmeister seldom recycles/rehashes previous postings, but here's an exception to that rule: a spotlight on British Animated Productions, producers of a Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog favorite, the Bubble & Squeek series.



    This blogger will take a Bubble & Squeek cartoon over a Disney from the same era (with the exception of those directed by Jack Kinney, the Jedi Master of The Goof) any day of the week.





    The series, starring a pub ale-swilling cabbie and his anthropomorphized lil' car, was the brainchild of former Walter Lantz Studio and Fleischer animator George Moreno, Jr.



    The Bubble & Squeek series and British Animated Productions had a brief but memorable run, which abruptly ended when an influx of cartoons imported from the U.S. hit Great Britain screens in 1948.



    The British Animated Productions staff included director Harold F. Mack, animators Pamela French, Jimmie Holt, Leslie Boyd, Fred Thompson and Hugh Gladwich.



    The animators appeared in the following British Pathe newsreel.



    My favorites are the two cartoons co-featuring an irascible rodent known as Colonel Rat and his sidekick Willie The Worm. Yes, that's right, Colonel Rat and Willie The Worm, slated for their own offshoot series.





    Well, that Colonel Rat and Willie The Worm series didn't happen. The tax on imports was reduced in 1947, an influx of U.S. cartoons from Warners, Disney and MGM on British soil (not unlike the mid-1960's invasion of British rock bands on American soil) resulted. . . and it was bye bye British Animated Productions and David Hand's GB Animation. The cast of characters did survive for awhile in comic books.



    For more info, check out the British Animation and UK Animation blogs.

    Monday, November 04, 2013

    Wide World Of Crap-tastic Cartoons Part 4: Theatricals Gone Wrong, Terribly Wrong, In A New York State Of Mind



    If there's one thing this blogger likes more than ultra-bizarre Screen Gems Studio curiosities, it's any theatrical cartoon produced from 1930 up to the enforcement of the Production Code in July 1934.



    That includes Paul Terry's Terrytoons, which, in the 1930's, combine the studio's trademark "Mickey Rat" characters and stock riffs (going back to the silent Aesop's Fables) with very bizarre sight gags more along the lines of Fleischer, Van Beuren and the New York style Southern California studio, Charles Mintz.



    These cartoons, as the Tom & Jerry and Cubby Bear series by the former Terrytoons animators at the Van Beuren Studio do, routinely come out of nowhere with strangely inventive ideas and moments of startling imagery.





    While Terrytoons are generally considered tame by comparison to the risque pre-Code romps made by the Fleischer Studio, there are some emphatic exceptions to that assertion!



    Here's another Terrytoon that uncharacteristically ventures into a bit of racy 1932 territory and - inevitably - features the studio's ersatz star, Farmer Al Falfa.



    Among the prototypes for the studio's 1940's operetta spoofs featuring Mighty Mouse, virtuous Pearl Pureheart and ever-slimy Oil Can Harry is this classic cartoon, The Banker's Daughter.



    The Terrytoons staff, at that point still including soon-to-be Disney ace animators Art Babbitt and Bill Tytla, successfully take on various genres (pirates, fairytales, the spooky haunted house, etc.) in the following cartoons.






    Today's tip of the Jimmie Hatlo top hat goes to artist and animation historian Milton Knight. Check out his cartoon-packed YouTube channel, blog The World Of Milton Knight and, if you reside in or close enough to Los Angeles, art show at The Brewery Arts Complex.