Will Elder dead at 86

Will, or “Wild Bill” Elder died today, so I feel I must note this, as he was one of my main inspirations for drawing comics and, along with the Pythons, informed my sense of humor when I was growing up. His work for the early Kurtzman issues of Mad blew my mind when I read them at 8 or 9 years old (the reprints would come in Mad’s “Super Specials” that I could find at the supermarket, as well as some of the trade paperbacks). Unlike Wood or Davis (or Kurtzman, when he drew), Elder gave you the biggest bang for your buck, filling in every nook and cranny with visual gags, word play, running jokes, and none of it beholden to physics or linear narrative. More than any other comics that I was reading, this was art that you had to go back and study. For the uninitiated, check out this reprint of Dragged Net, a parody of the TV show Dragnet. It’s chock-a-block with goodness, and shows the difference of the early Mad parodies (all written by Harvey Kurtzman) compared to the flat and dull ones that they’ve done since.

After Mad, Elder’s main art was devoted to Little Annie Fanny, that ran in Playboy from 1962 to 1988. I wasn’t a fan so much of these, despite how dearly I love breasts. The panels are not as crazy, and the jokes–obviously because of its subject matter and its venue–are mostly sexual based. But I have to admit, look at the beautiful work in the above splash panel. Elder didn’t work in such painterly color in Mad, and his use of a weird perspective, distortion, color, and weight (Annie’s voluptuousness changes in the gravity of the water) are masterful for the medium.

You can look at my own (very few) comics and see where I’ve stolen from him, sometimes blatantly. So rest in peace, Mr. Elder.

UPDATE 05.16.08: Fantagraphics have posted a link to a once-banned (copyright infringement) Kurtzman/Elder parody of Archie/Playboy that appeared in Humbug, post-Mad.

Video of a sad, unaware person projecting his self-loathing

When he’s not pleasuring himself with a vibrator during non-consensual phone sex with a workmate, Faux News Propaganda Channel windbag Bill O’Reilly does things like this.
This is awesome…how long before the mashups/remixes?
UPDATE: Someone’s knickers are in a bunch. The original YouTube got taken down. I’ve replaced it with one from Break.com. Also try here. I may even have the original Flash file kickin’ around…but no need for that yet.
UPDATE: Well, that took all of 12 hours. It’s the Fuck It! Remix of Bill O! by Revolucian. Word.
UPDATE 05.14.08!: Stephen Colbert exposes the video to the television audience–how’s that feel CBS?–and then parodies it. Brilliant.
UPDATE 05.14.08 PART DEUX: The Fuck It! Remix video.

UPDATE 05.16.08: CollegeHumor.com has a behind the scenes look at the producer of Bill O’s show. This too is brilliant.

John Fogerty at the Bowl

John Fogerty! No, really!!
Being an arts writer means going to concerts that you’d never really pay for, but have nothing against. So a chance to see John Fogerty was duly taken. After all, Fogerty’s string of hits with CCR from 1968-1972 is pretty formidable. So, it was a good time to see him in concert, still with that same voice. My mom–yes, my plus-one free ticket–was gobsmacked at the opportunity to go too.

Review coming soon…

Update: A setlist, as found on Fogerty’s own site.
Born On The Bayou
Bad Moon Rising
Green River
Who’ll Stop The Rain
Lookin’ Out My Backdoor
Cotton Fields
My Toot Toot
Ramble Tamble
Midnight Special
Susie Q
Don’t You Wish It Was True
Southern Streamline
Broken Down Cowboy
Keep On Chooglin’
Creedence Song
Have You Ever Seen The Rain
Blue Ridge Mountain Blues
Almost Saturday Night
Down On The Corner w/Shane & Tyler Fogerty
Good Golly Miss Molly
Old Man Down The Road
Fortunate Son
Up Around The Bend
Proud Mary

ONSTAGE : Fuller’s guide to the universe – Rubicon revisits life of R. Buckminster Fuller in one-man show

By Ted Mills, News-Press Correspondent
January 11, 2008 10:50 AM
When playwright Doug Jacobs was a UCSB freshman back in the late 1960s, his older brother told him one day to stop by the College of Creative Studies building to catch R. Buckminster Fuller holding court. The engineer, inventor and all-around Renaissance Man was “thinking out loud,” as Fuller used to say.
“I asked my brother when I should stop by,” says Jacobs. “He said to come whenever, Fuller was talking all day.” It turned out to be true. Jacobs listened, got hungry, went to dinner, and came back. Fuller was still there, as were the usual assemblage of Fuller groupies.
The sheer proliferation of Fuller’s works and thoughts are only a fraction of what Jacobs, many decades later, would have to draw from in condensing one man’s life into a one-man show at the Rubicon Theatre. Starring Joe Spano, “R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (And Mystery) of The Universe” opens Thursday.
“His idea that an individual can solve these big problems is very American,” says Jacobs, “It’s very ‘A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.’ ”
Fuller’s star may have fallen a bit in the national consciousness in recent years. He is still best known for the geodesic dome or sphere, the utopian bubble structure that can be seen at places like Walt Disney World or in Toronto.
But for Jacobs and other fans of Fuller, he is best known for his futurism, his faith in humanity and man’s ability to evolve, change, think, and his science-turned-spiritual philosophy, which places him in a long line of Americans stretching back to the Transcendentalists like Emerson and Thoreau.
Actor Joe Spano, a veteran of four Rubicon Theater productions and a film and television stalwart, with long stints on “Hill Street Blues” and “NYPD Blue.”
Spano says playing Fuller’s character — or “Bucky” as his fans call him — has been a journey into a complicated mind.
“It’s like going down the rabbit hole,” he says of trying to figure out Fuller. “I hope to come out with a picture of Bucky that people will be able to grasp. There’s a lot of truth in this play, but it’s important to keep the message broad. He was not dogmatic, and he was not paternalistic. He did not do anything that would take away another individual’s responsibility.”
Central to Fuller’s personality — and to the play’s autobiographical sections — was the death of his daughter when Fuller was only 32 years old, and relatively unknown.
Suicidal and alcoholic, Fuller underwent a crisis that led to an epiphany, a life-changing idea to become a human experiment in individual potential.
“I was working on this around the same time as (an adaptation of) ‘A Christmas Carol,’ ” Jacobs says. “And the two plays began to melt together. Bucky reinvents himself.” Unlike Scrooge, Fuller had decades to explore his new ideas.
Jacobs, who premiered the play back in 2000 at San Diego Repertory Theater, which he co-founded, sought out Spano for the role after their shared history at Berkeley Rep. “We always wanted to work with him,” says Jacobs.
For Spano, the one-man show is not a new challenge, but being Bucky is unlike anything he’s done before.
“He was dedicated to humanity, as cliché as it sounds,” he says. “He was in no sense an Eastern mystic. His ideas of transformation were very American in a very muscular way.”
When: 8 p.m. Thursday through Feb. 10
Where: Rubicon Theatre, 1006 E. Main Street, Ventura
Cost: $29-$52
Information: 667-2900, www.rubicontheatre.org
©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press

Drink of the Week : The Study Hall’s Fresca

By Ted Mills
January 4, 2008 11:34 AM
This may sound like Freakonomics, but the busiest hour of The Study Hall on the 500 block of State Street is directly tied into the bus schedules. Between 10:30 and 11 p.m., the bar fills up with college kids coming in from Isla Vista on the last bus downtown. Perhaps some have already been in bars in I.V., and if so, they’ve probably been at the other Study Hall, which has been pouring drinks for 12 years.
But, okay, this was much earlier in the night, and the bar was quiet by comparison. Ten-year bartending vet Duane Jeter manned the bottles and shakers, and seemed thrilled to step aside from the usual chant of “jackandcoke” and whip up some concoctions for our adventurous palate. “Off the menu?” he asked when we suggested where to look. “We have no menu, so I guess everything’s off the menu.”
So, he whips up a Gaucho — a blue and yellow concoction designed to tap into fond feelings of current students and alumni of UCSB. School colors, represent! The yellow comes from a mix of Mandarin vodka, Triple sec and O.J., and the blue can be none other than Blue Curaçao. Very smooth and easy to down in one, which is the point, and the drink manages to keep its blue and yellow partition even when my partner sipped instead of chugged. The Gaucho, as Jeter pointed out, is a blue-added version of the Orange Crush, also known as the Midnight Mimosa. Just replace the blue with regular curaçao.
One of Jeter’s favorite opening cocktail gambits — those served to customers too rushed to decide but too thirsty to wait — was our favorite, the Fresca. Named after the soda, and served over a large amount of ice, the drink combines a vodka with sweet’n’sour mix and 7-Up.
Depending on the vodka used, Jeter tempers the flavor with another liquor — in our case some Bacardi Limon. Like the soda, the drink comes in many flavors, depending on the flavored vodka (Stoli or Absolut) Jeter chooses. For us, it was black cherry. Refreshing, strong but not sweet, this satisfying cocktail is our drink of the week.
FRESCA (one variation)
2 parts Stoli Black Cherry Vodka
2 parts Bacardi Limon
1 part sweet and sour mix
1 part 7-Up
Combine in shaker, agitate, serve over ice in lowball glass. Garnish with Maraschino cherry and orange slice.
The Study Hall
519 State St., 560-6550, www.thestudyhall.com
©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press

In Concert: Perfect Tenn

Choirmaster Mark Simmons prepares his University of Tennessee choirs for Saturday concert
By Ted Mills, News-Press Correspondent
January 4, 2008 11:12 AM
Something of a globetrotter in his younger days, choirmaster Mark Simmons has made a point of imparting the importance of traveling on his students.
“Last year they saw the Atlantic coast,” he says, “This year I thought they should see the Pacific.”
Both Simmons and the two choirs he brings to Trinity Episcopal Church this Saturday hail from the landlocked University of Tennessee at Martin. A little dose of Bach and a breath of sea air add up to something like a well-rounded education for the choir.
“I think choirs should tour,” Simmons says. “For one night we get to get the message out about our university.”
Simmons brings with him the 43-member University Singers and the smaller New Pacer Singers, the latter all members of the former.
“The smaller group deals with the more complicated and harmonically challenging works,” says Simmons, ” and the larger one with the more traditional and spiritual.”
Simmons, who counts minimalists like Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and especially John Adams as closest to his heart, leaves room to explore the choral works by Healey Willan (“An Apostrophe to the Heavenly Hosts” ) and John Rutter (“Hymn to the Creator of Light”).
Both of these modern composers raised the profile of choral music in the 20th century, and Simmons considers these two selections very important works.
“Willan was a Canadian and an Anglican by denomination and it’s a coincidence but appropriate we are performing in an Anglican church.” The coincidence extends to Simmons’ Anglican faith, but Trinity Episcopal was chosen primarily for its acoustics. The area where he teaches and performs counts itself primarily Bible-belt Baptist. “Of course that means there’s plenty of places to perform,” he notes.
Born into a musical family (both parents taught choir) in Indiana, Simmons spent his childhood traveling, living in Saudi Arabia at one point when his parents taught in English schools. Back in the States, his education took him to New York, Oregon, Iowa, and Michigan. He finally settled in Martin, where his wife teaches clarinet at the university.
With an expanded mind comes the expanded repertoire, but that doesn’t mean the choir skimps on the Bach — also on the program with Motet No. 6 “Lobet den herrn.” “I’m partial to Bach,” he says. “It’s intrinsically teaching (students) all the time. There’s so much musical experience in one piece that it’s a major step to get through it.” Bach wrote six motets, and Simmons plans to perform them all, one a year, working backwards. “They don’t get easier,” he laughs.
The students who Simmons and his wife take on tour will be put up by Trinity Episcopal and All Saints By-the-Sea Episcopal, and, as Simmons notes, the students underwrite most of the trip’s expenses themselves. The whole trip is broken down into traveling, performing, and exploring (the tour finishes in Las Vegas), and Simmons says that in four years of touring, there has been little drama.
“We’ve once or twice left someone behind on the first bus out of Martin,” he laughs, alluding to the inevitable late-sleeping student. “But that’s an education in itself — a hard lesson, but an education.”
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Trinity Episcopal Church,1500 State St.
Cost: Free
Information: 965-7419, www.utm.edu/choirs
©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press

Please Stand by

Where have ya gone?
Sorry folks, I really intend to update this whole site. I’m disappointed with the way Blogger has tweaked their system, rendering this blog ass-tastic.
I plan to consolidate all these blogs together and migrate to Movable Type at some point, but I know how long that will take and I’m just very under the gun for various projects. So this site is going to have to wait.
In the meantime, my Flickr page is still going strong, so please keep updated with that. You can follow my posts through RSS or Atom. Cheers!!