December 10, 2013
Here is a Beatles cover you don't hear every day: a French version of "Yellow Submarine" as rendered by ze one, ze only...Maurice Chevalier.
This week Easily Mused pays tribute to the Hawaiian native Arthur Lyman (1932-2002), the vibraphonist and marimba player extraordinaire who was at the forefront of the short-lived and sometimes revived Exotica movement. Let's kick things off with a recording he made well after the height of his career, unusual in that it features a vocal performance by Lyman, who usually stuck to instrumentals. The female vocalist is Arthur's own daughter Kapiolani. From the 1975 Crescendo release Puka Shells here is "Guava Tree," a leisurely tune of gratitude to warm the cockles of your heart. How cockles got in your heart, that's your business.
Having just completed a rigorous series of time management courses, I am happy to announce my intention to resume full time blogging immediately. While Easily Mused has been relatively quiet for the past few years, it still has a modest amount of traffic from readers all over the world, for which I am grateful. I know that blogs are a dime a dozen, but I will do my utmost to provide content that will be interesting, original, and entertaining.
20th Century Pop Culture, that's my beat. I love creative people and their creations. I always have a warm spot for creators who I think are underrated and often overlooked. It is the artist's path I have followed throughout my life. They have taught me much about what is truly important in life. They have been my muses, and I hope that by sharing my sense of wonder concerning these outstanding human beings, you too may be inspired and delighted.
I will be rolling out a host of regular features, starting today with the "Muse Of The Week." Every week, Easily Mused will spotlight a creative individual and his or her works. There will also be a feature called "Strange Bedfellows," spotlighting instances where two famous people (folks who are not generally thought of together) met or collaborated. Think Nixon meets Elvis. "Frontier Cabin" posts will document my adventures as a songwriter and follow this process from creation to production and distribution.
Also expect to see rarely seen comics, rarely heard music, original humor and fiction pieces, wondrous Ebay finds that you can purchase for your own collections, a dash of philosophy, and a smattering of good news, delivered daily, completely free of charge, although donations will be accepted.
The bloglinks on the right will be updated and expanded on a regular basis. It will be a portal to a very fine lineup of blogs covering art and pop culture in it's myriad forms.
I hope you will make Easily Mused a small part of your daily routine in 2014. More importantly, I hope that this New Year brings you and yours much happiness and prosperity.
Cheers and Aloha!
November 22, 2013
I dislike when imaginary characters from my youth are revamped in an effort to make them more palatable to modern audiences. It's a wrongheaded idea that rarely, if ever, works. That's why I'm ecstatic after watching the brand new trailer for the latest Muppet movie, Muppets Most Wanted, due this Spring. The spirit of Jim Henson lives!
November 21, 2013
Here's an interesting little curio: a 1974 television special pairing Julie Andrews with The Great One, Jackie Gleason. An interesting rundown of this strange gem can be found on Film Threat. The YouTube poster notes that Jackie Gleason flew to London for this production, making his first flight in twenty years. This may be the last time Jackie reprised signature characters such as "The Poor Soul," "Reggie Van Gleason III" and "Joe The Bartender."
One odd highlight: a Honeymooners sketch with Julie attempting to play the Ed Norton role. Sheeeesh!
Of course, some things are bound to slip under the radar. For example, one month ago marked the 50th anniversary of one of the most iconic episodes of The Twilight Zone, the gripping yarn "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," which starred a young William Shatner as an airplane passenger bedeviled by a wing hopping gremlin. The episode first aired on October 11, 1963.
Although this episode, written by recently deceased I Am Legend scribe Richard Matheson, deserves it's reputation for originality and suspense, it was not entirely without precedent. Twelve years prior, Jimmy Stewart and Marlene Dietrich co-starred in a British film with similar themes called No Highway in the Sky.
In the film, Stewart plays one of those befuddled genius types who sometimes forgets things like where he lives or where he keeps the sherry. He works at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, and his current research involves testing his theory that the new "Reindeer" airliner has a flaw: after about 1440 hours of service, the tail will fall off due to metal fatigue. In a strange twist of fate, he finds himself on such an aircraft, one that has clocked in just over 1400 hours.
In a parallel to the later Twilight Zone episode, he tries to convince the pilot, a stewardess, and a passenger that they are all in terrible danger, but to no avail. For the rest of the film, his sanity comes into question. It's a good film and Marlene Dietrich is fine as Monica Teasdale, the elegant movie star passenger. Glynis Johns is absolutely charming as the caring flight attendant.
No Highway in the Sky is currently streaming on Amazon Instant, and is free for Prime subscribers.