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Archive for the ‘Brett Helquist’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: CHILLING THRILLING SOUNDS OF THE HAUNTED HOUSE (1964).

The cover during Phish’s 2014 concert was of this album.

Apparently many people grew up with this record.  I personally didn’t know it, but if you read the comments (don’t read the comments!) on any YouTube clip of the album you will see how popular it is.

Wikipedia describes it as  intended for “older children, teenagers, and adults” released by Disneyland Records (now known as Walt Disney Records). The album was mainly composed of sound effects that had been collected by the sound effects department of Walt Disney Studios. The album was released in several different forms. The album was first released in 1964 in a white sleeve, with a second release in 1973 with an orange sleeve. In both versions, the first side contained 10 stories narrated by Laura Olsher, complete with sound effects. The second side contained 10 sound effects meant for others to create their own stories.

Despite the title, most of the cuts had nothing to do with haunted houses or witches or ghostly spirits. Featured were such situations as an ocean liner hitting rocks, an idiotic lumberjack, a man crossing an unsafe bridge, someone lighting a stick of dynamite and a spaceship landing on Mars. Also, there are tracks with several examples of cats, dogs and birds (similar to “The Birds”) becoming enraged for some reason, as well as a skit about Chinese water torture. In addition, some of the screams were taken directly from the scene where Miss Havisham catches fire in the 1946 David Lean film Great Expectations.

The full track listing is

  • “The Haunted House” 3:00
  • “The Very Long Fuse” 1:28
  • “The Dogs” 1:13
  • “Timber” 1:45
  • “Your Pet Cat” 0:49
  • “Shipwreck” 1:39
  • “The Unsafe Bridge” 1:21
  • “Chinese Water Torture” 2:02
  • “The Birds” 0:46
  • “The Martian Monsters” 1:41
  • “Screams and Groans” 0:57
  • “Thunder, Lightning and Rain” 2:01
  • “Cat Fight” 0:37
  • “Dogs” 0:48
  • “A Collection Of Creaks” 1:54
  • “Fuses and Explosions” 1:11
  • “A Collection Of Crashes” 0:45
  • “Birds” 0:33
  • “Drips and Splashes” 1:18
  • “Things In Space” 0:53

Nothing is especially scary–although maybe for a kid, as many adults claim to have been really frightened by it.  Everything is quite over the top, especially the screams and cat howls and dog snarling.  Even the stories are a little silly, although having them in the second person is pretty genius.

But things like “one night as you lie in your lonely room in your stone hut on the moors…”  (What?).  And the Martian one.  Just keeping with continuity: if “you,” meaning me, went on the trip, then I couldn’t hear the crunching as it ate me.  Or the silly voice saying “I wonder what that was.”

And the less said about the horribly racist Chinese Water Torture the better.  I mean, the opening is bad enough: “The ancient Chinese were a very clever race” but the end of the song is really awful.  But if we can look past that, the rest of the record has fun with sound effects and is generally pretty enjoyable.

During the John Congleton interview, he also talks about this album and says (at 40:28) “the speakers are 180 degrees out of phase to make it sound extremely stereophonic.”  He says now as an engineer it is totally painful to listen to.  Bob says it sounds like it comes from the back of your head.

[READ: October 15, 2017] Half-Minute Horrors.

The premise of this book (edited by Susan Rich) is simple: how scared can you get in 30 seconds?  To me, the answer is actually not very.  I guess for me fear builds over time.  It’s hard to get genuinely frightened over something that just suddenly happens (unless it is just trying to frighten you quickly, of course).

Having said that, I enjoyed this book a lot (look at the list of authors!).  I liked the arbitrary goal of writing a scary story in a paragraph or two (or more).  And some of them were really quite creepy.

I was originally going to point out which ones I felt were the most creepy, but there are so many stories, I kind of lost track.  So instead, here’s a rundown and a brief summary. (more…)

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fairytaleSOUNDTRACK: JOE BOYD AND ROBYN HITCHCOCK-“Tiny Desk Concert #142 (July 18, 2011).

robynThis is one of the more unusual Tiny Desk Concerts because it is not just music.  It is music and a recitation.  Joe Boyd (who I didn’t know) is a producer of many classic 1970s albums, including albums by Pink Floyd, Syd Barret and Nick Drake.  Robyn Hitchcock is an unusual and often funny singer songwriter.

Hitchcock opens the concert by stating (in his wonderfully British broadcaster’s voice) “All my life I’ve been Robyn Hitchock [and I’m here with] Joe Boyd who has been Joe Boyd even longer than I’ve been me.”

Joe and Robyn were doing a tour together in which Joe would talk about his experiences with these artists and then Robyn would play a representative song.

Robyn plays two songs.  The first is Syd Barrett’s “Terrapin,” a song I’ve always like.  His cover sounds a lot like Barrett’s version while still retaining Hitchcock’s distinctive singing quality.

The second song is one that Hitchcock wrote for the tour called “I Saw Nick Drake.”  It was planned as the first encore. It’s very much a Hitchcock song, a little trippy and strangely  catchy about him seeing Nick Drake and Nick being fine.

Between these songs, Boyd talks for about fifteen minutes, telling about working with Syd and how amazing he was…until he wasn’t.  And then about working with Nick and how every recording he did was perfect and how big his hands were.

If you care about either of these musicians or about British rock from that era, this is a great performance to check out.  It’s informative and a little funny too.

[READ: January 19, 2016] Fairy Tale Comics

This book follows on First Second’s Nursery Rhyme Comics book. Perhaps because this was a thinner volume or perhaps because Fairy Tales are a bit more substantive than Nursery Rhymes, I found this book even more enjoyable than the other.

And even though I (and possibly you) think that you know every a fairy tale, there were quite a few in here that I didn’t know.  In his editors note, Chris Duffy notes that he encouraged the artists to pick stories other than Grimms (although Grim is well represented).

Brothers Grimm stories include:

“Sweet Porridge,” which I’d never heard of.  This is done in a classic cartoon style by Bobby London.

“The 12 Dancing Princesses” seemed vaguely familiar.  This was done in a very pretty style by Emily Carroll.

“Hansel and Gretel” I did know, of course.  It’s fun to see Gilbert Hernandez doing a children’s story since I think of his stories as very adult.  But his simple drawing style works perfectly for this story.

“Little Red Riding Hood” has a very simple almost anime style from Gigi D.G.  It ends with a happy ending.

“Snow White” was done by the other Hernandez brother, Jaime.  His style is so peculiar and yet so perfect for this tale (the fact that the baby is actually white is a wonderful touch.

“Rumpelstiltskin” is done by Brett Helquist whom I know from the Lemon Snicket stories.  I can see his style a bit in these drawings but the colors really bring his interesting style to life.  It’s a great version.

“Rapunzel”  I have recently become a huge fan of Raina Telgemeier, and I love what she does with this story.  Although as I finished it I had to wonder if this is how the story is usually finished.  This seemed much more positive than what I imagine the Grimms intended.

“Bremen Town” I had never heard of this story.  And I can’t believe that this was how it was originally written. In this story a group of animals forms a band.  They frighten away bad guys so that they can jam.  How weird.  Karl Kerschl’s style suits it well.

“Give Me the Shudders” is another Grimm story that I had never heard of.  It’s about a boy who can’t shudder or shiver and so every one assumes he is fearless. He keeps asking people to teach him to shiver, but when they see he can’t they keep promoting him to better stations in life. David Mazzucchelli’s style works nicely with this because of the simplicity of his design amid the craziness of the story.

In addition to stories from Grimm, there are these fairy tales

From Charles Perrault:

“Puss in Boots” makes me wonder if I don’t know the story all that well.  I was quite intrigued by the way this one turned out.  Vanessa Davis has a kind of sloppy style.

From 1001 Nights Tales:

“The Prince and the Tortoise.” I had never heard of this story.  It’s pretty wild and weird.  The drawing style by Ramona Fradon reminds me of adventure comics from the Sunday papers.

From a Japanese Tale:

“The Boy Who Drew Cats” is a wonderfully cool and interesting story about the powers of fantasy and doing what you are meant to do.  Luke Pearson’s drawing is perfectly old school and nearly monochromatic for the Japanese landscape.

From Bre’r Rabbit”

“Rabbit Will Not Help”  I don’t know this tale but I do know some Bre’r Rabbit.  He’s such a bastard, and the drawing style by Joseph Lambert works nicely with that.  It’s a little weird and dark–perfect for this tale.

From an English Tale”

“The Small Tooth Dog”  I had never heard of this tale.  It’s pretty weird from start to finish, and that includes the art by Charise Mericle Harper whose style is very dramatically cartoony and also a little weird.

“Goldilocks and the Three Bears” I didn’t realize that this wasn’t a Grimm story.  This was my favorite in the book because of the way Graham Annable chose to do it.  There are no words just wonderful illustrations and great looks by both Goldilocks and the bears.  I suppose it helps if you know the story already–it may not be ideal for those who are seeing for the first time (whoever that may be) but as an interpretation, I loved it,

From the Russian Tale:

“Baba Yaga”  Russian Tales are always so dark.  And Jillian Tamaki represents this very well. This story has a house with chicken legs, wolves, talking cats and much more.  I really like Tamaki’s work a lot and I enjoyed her interpretation.

From The King and His Storyteller:

“Azzolino’s Story Without End” is another story I’d never heard of.  In it, a boy king wants to be told a story without an end.  And the king’s story-teller think of a great way to do it The story is short but Craig Thompson’s style is right on.

I really enjoyed this collection a lot.  And I love getting introduced and reintroduced to these stories that I’ve known for quite some time.

Thanks First Second. #10yearsof01

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