Thursday, August 17, 2006

Song Of The Week: Harvest Moon

This week's SOTW is a sneak preview of the next Radio Free Charleston. One of our guests will be my good friend Raymond Wallace, late of The Leon Waters Blues Band, dragged in from his sickbed and forced to play his guitar for the first time in a long time. Raymond's been living the blues for the last couple of years with a variety of heath and housing issues, and after our recording session, he told me that he felt like he was coming back to life after being a dead man. It was great to see Raymond playing again, after all that he's been through.

Raymond recorded three songs for us, and our SOTW is one that won't be on the next show. "Shine On Harvest Moon," performed in Raymond's Leon Redbone-influenced style, will make you feel like you're hanging out in a New Orleans whorehouse, circa 1910. Leon Redbone is one of Raymond's heroes, as you'll see on the show, and he draws a lot of inspiration from him and other legendary bluesmen like Muddy Waters.

As a bonus, You can listen to Raymond playing "Variations On Kotke," Raymond's take on a piece he heard Leo Kotke play on Mountain Stage. This tune was recorded with Raymond playing my cheap 12-string, on the very computer that I use to write this blog. My guitar never sounded better. The next episode of RFC, featuring Raymond and Under The Radar, should be posted here at next week.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Animated Links

Animated Discussions
by Rudy Panucci and Melanie Larch

It's link week in Animated Discussions, as we slack off and let other people do the work for a change.

Heidi MacDonald, at the Beat, tells us about the new Adult Swim import from Japan, Shin Chan the adventures of a rude five-year-old boy, and how it will probably rock because Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer are writing the English scripts for the series.

Mark Evanier posts an embedded YouTube compilation of Quisp and Quake commercials made by Jay Ward (Bullwinkle) in the 1960s. Not only is this cool because of the animation and the background info Mark provides, but also because Quisp is the food of the Gods--the finest cereal ever crafted by human or alien.

Toonzone interviews Mark about the episodes of Superman: The Animated Series that he wrote, notably the tributes to legendary comics creator Jack Kirby.

Miles Thompson, an animator and designer who's worked on countless of our favorite TV cartoons dating back to 2 Stupid Dogs has a way-cool art blog.

Meanwhile, Donovan Cook, creator of 2 Stupid Dogs, is currently working on an animated feature, Space Chimps, due out in a year or two. His last major project was Mickey, Donald and Goofy as The Three Musketeers, which you can read about here.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Cool Toy Of The Week: Power Team Combat Engineer

I haven't exactly made a secret of the fact that I collect GI Joe action figures. I'm talking about the 12" tall guys, like we had back when I was a kid (and also for the last ten years or so). Hasbro recently decided to take GI Joe into new territory, with a new size and the storylines and characters familiar to fans of the small GI Joes from the 1980s. So history repeated, and in 2005, just like back in 1976, the 12" tall GI Joe was "retired." The official GI Joe Collectors Club is still making extremely cool limited editions of the big guys, but unless you luck into some leftovers hidden on the shelves, you won't be seeing the big GI Joes in stores.

However, GI Joe has always inspired a healthy group of fellow travelers, compatible toys made by competing companies. One of the best of these is the Power Team Elite World Peacekeepers line of 12" action figures made by M & C Toy Centre. You can find Power Team figures at Big Lots, Kay Bee Toy Stores, and in the JC Penney Christmas catalog. Unlike the 12" GI Joe, Power Team is still going strong! They have a ton of new product coming out and they put a tremendous amount of effort into their design and play value. Their current body design sports some of the most realistic articulation of any 12" action figure, and is able to imitate nearly the full range of motion of the human body.

Our "cool toy" this week is the Power Team Elite World Peacekeepers Combat Engineer, which includes one fully-articulated figure, with interchangeable hands, and a huge assortment of cool 1/6 scale diorama pieces, including a garbage can, barrel, extending ladder, chainsaw, "wood" planks, a crate and a tool kit. The tool kit includes scale tools like a hammer, screwdriver, wrenches, pliers, facemask, axe, shovel, circuit tester, and eye protection. One of the major attractions of the Power Team line is that it provides such a wide variety of cool accessories in the proper scale for hobbyists who build dioramas. This set is a gold mine with tons of potential for that purpose.

Best of all, this set has been spotted in Big Lots just last week. So if you're a GI Joe collector who's depressed over the lack of cool Joe stuff in retail stores, look in the direction of Power Team. They're still holding down the 1/6 scale fort.

Monday Morning Art: Branches

We kick off the new week, rested and refreshed after some birthday weekend slacking, with a digitally-assaulted photograph from last winter. This is a shot of barren tree branches, which has been a recurring motif in my work for over twenty years. I like the way they look. As always, click to enlarge. Later today I'll be catching up on my weekend off, with Cool Toy and Animation posts.

I wasn't slacking the entire weekend. Friday night Mel and I split our time between the Open mic night at the Unity Church and the CD launch party for Holy Cow at Capitol Roasters. I was out recruiting bands for future episodes of RFC, and found quite a few talented area musicians. We were particularly impressed by Holy Cow, whose new CD can be found at Budget Tapes and Records in Kanawha City and Fret & Fiddle in St. Albans. (and at CD Baby, online).