Saturday, April 30, 2011

An absurdly NSFW remix of Khia's "My Neck, My Back"

Khia meets Frank Zappa in a very odd way.

Here is my take on Khia's immortal -- and astonishingly dirty -- hit song, "My Neck, My Back." I've given it a retro-futuristic setting with a melody taken from Frank Zappa's "Peaches en Regalia." I hope you enjoy.

And if you liked that, here's a mashup of "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" by The Beastie Boys and "Friday" by Rebecca Black.

My Muppet-centric take on a popular meme

Bert is disappointed in Ernie.

To ZOMBY, the world is essentially one big buffet.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Proto-Mashups: When You Had to Combine Songs Manually

Nowadays, technology has allowed creative and enterprising DJs to disassemble songs and rebuild them in seemingly endless ways. It's commonplace now, for instance, to take the vocal from one song and meld it to the instrumental backing of another song. Mashups often thrive on the juxtaposition of opposites, creating "fantasy" collaborations between artists whose paths would otherwise never cross. A perfect example is "Party & Bullshit in the USA", which combines tracks by Miley Cyrus and the late Christopher Wallace, a.k.a The Notorious B.I.G.

But during the "analog" era of pop music, artists who wanted to combine two songs had to do so the old-fashioned way: manually. Here's a little tribute to some of those pioneering artists who created mashups before we even had a term for them.

The Trashmen, "Surfin' Bird" (1963)

Back in 1963, a Minneapolis-based garage band called The Trashmen scored a Top 10 hit with this memorable novelty single. What's especially odd about the song is that it combines two mid-sized R&B hits, "The Bird is the Word" and "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" by the Rivingtons. Though the Trashmen would never again reach the upper stratosphere of the pop charts, their biggest hit would live on for decades in movies, television shows, commercials, and oldies radio. In recent years, of course, the song has gained entirely new levels of infamy thanks to an episode of Family Guy.

Alan Copeland, "Mission: Impossible Theme/Norwegian Wood" (1968)

A few years later, bandleader and composer Alan Copeland released this shockingly ahead-of-its-time recording which takes the lyrics and melody of a John Lennon-composed Beatles song and sets it against Lalo Schifrin's unforgettable TV theme song. This is exactly the kind of cut-and-paste job that mashup DJs are doing today, only Copeland was doing it 40 years ahead of schedule and without digital trickery! I won't say that this particular musical marriage is perfectly harmonious, but the fact that Copeland was even trying it in 1968 is remarkable.

Big Daddy, pretty much everything from 1983-1992

When it comes to creating analog mashups, however, a Los Angeles cover band called Big Daddy takes the prize. Their Wikipedia entry even defines them as being "among the first groups to create mashups." Big Daddy existed off and on between 1975 and 2005, but they only released four actual albums -- each one essential, in my opinion -- over the course of a decade. At first, their gimmick could be summarized as: 1980s songs done as if they'd been recorded in the 1950s. But soon enough, Big Daddy toyed with the formula and expanded their horizons. Ultimately, the Big Daddy formula can be best described as: a song covered in the manner of another older song. Among many great Big Daddy songs, I have chosen to highlight a couple which clearly illustrate the concept of mashing up two songs.

First, here is their gorgeous cover of "Sukiyaki," which takes the well-known Kyu Sakamoto song and combines it with "Don't Worry Baby" by the Beach Boys. Enjoy.

On a slightly goofier note, here is their version of "Hotel California," which crossbreeds the Eagles hit with "Runaway" by Del Shannon.

And these are just the tip of the iceberg. I urge you to dig around a little on YouTube and listen to some more Big Daddy songs. Or better yet, seek out some of the group's full-length albums. Again, there are only four of them, plus a couple of EPs and a (highly-recommended) greatest hits disc.

ZOMBY: Egon Spengler was right.

And in case you need reminding what the headline (and this joke) refers to:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

ZOMBY: Tom Wilson = anti-government extremist?

Okay, first off, here are two actual Ziggy cartoons that ran this week (Thursday and Tuesday respectively):

Apart from the fact that the supposed government agent and the auto mechanic are clearly the same man in different outfits, these Ziggys betray a certain, shall we say, paranoia about the government and its intrusion into our lives. Is there something you'd like to share with the class, Tom Wilson or Tom Wilson II? Is Ziggy being produced in some heavily fortified compound in Montana somewhere? I'm starting to become concerned.

By the way, speaking of having microchips implanted in our bodies, did you know that beloved 60 Minutes curmudgeon Andy Rooney is totally down with that? He is!

Oh, by the way, here's today's Zomby.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In response to critics, WAYNE KOTKE releases his own death certificate!

The time has come to answer my critics, the so-called "deathers" who demand to see my death certificate. This ridiculous controversy has dogged the Living Impaired rights movement for too long. I invite you to examine the certificate for yourself. Feel free to CLICK on it for a closer view.

I thank you.

President, Spokesman, and Founder of Dead 2 Rights

How DOES computer dating work in ZOMBY's world...?

Tom Wilson seems to profoundly misunderstand how computer dating works, because he's always having Ziggy show up in person at some kind of "computer dating" office and staring up at the receptionist's desk like a dog looking for table scraps. Look, I'm sure and eHarmony have brick-and-mortar offices somewhere, but all you'd find there are some administrative staffers, I.T. guys, and maybe some customer service reps (if that part of the business hasn't been off-shored). Ziggy, however, seems to treat this place like it's some kind of magical "girl store" where they have sexy single ladies in some kind of storage room. I believe what he's looking for is known as a brothel.

Am I right about this or totally off base?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Accidentally great on purpose: Noel Harrison's "Whiter Shade of Pale"

Noel Harrison, son of Rex, had quite the singing career.

Between 1988 and 1997, Rhino Records released a series of albums called Golden Throats which compiled cover versions of famous rock, pop, and country songs by moonlighting Hollywood celebrities, mainly movie and TV stars who somehow thought they could sing. I collected and cherished these records, for this is where I was introduced to the musical output of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Sebastian Cabot, Jack Palance, and other celebrities who had no business in a recording studio. One of the oddities on the first volume was a rendition of Procul Harum's "Whiter Shade of Pale" by British actor Noel Harrison. Harrison was easily the most obscure celebrity on the LP. Harrison's main claims to fame are these: (1) His dad was Rex Harrison of My Fair Lady and the original Dr. Doolittle. (2) He starred in the short-lived TV series The Girl From UNCLE. Noel's Wikipedia page reveals a much more impressive resume, including the fact that he was an Olympic skier (!), scored a UK Top 10 hit with "Windmills of Your Mind," and has a discography spanning 50 years. Not exactly a lightweight, you might say.

Since acquiring that first Golden Throats disc, I've heard a handful of Noel Harrison tracks. (In fact, his rendition of "She's a Woman" is on the fourth Golden Throats album.) But my fascination pretty much begins and ends with that hypnotic recording of "Whiter Shade of Pale." The Procul Harum original, a massive hit and certified classic, is especially notable for two main features: the pseudo-classical Bach-like organ accompaniment and the soulful lead vocal by Paul Brooker. Noel Harrison's version boldly removes both of those elements. The Procul Harum record, like much of 1960s British rock, is the sound of white English guys trying to sound both American and, more specifically, black... and succeeding, I'd say. But Harrison's version is English, through and through. The incredibly dry, reserved vocals sound like a precursor to Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys. Here, have a listen:

For comparison's sake, here's the Procul Harum version:

Pretty different, right? In fact, I'd say that Noel's version was the craziest and best thing anyone ever did to "Whiter Shade of Pale." With the possible exception of the following. (WARNING: NSFW LANGUAGE!)

ZOMBY has a perfectly good explanation for that.

Monday, April 25, 2011

ZOMBY comes again in glory... sort of.

The moral here is simple: have something worth stealing in your home in case hooligans break in. That way, they'll just steal whatever it is and (hopefully) leave instead of making long-distance calls and dialing 900 lines.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I Am Violet Beauregarde: Confessions of a Gum Chewer!

The Who, drawn on gum wrappers. (artwork by Joe Blevins)

"But it's repulsive, revolting and wrong,
Chewing and chewing all day long
The way that a cow does!"
- THE OOMPA LOOMPAS, those judgmental orange bastards

Friends -- and I consider anyone who reads this blog my close, personal friend -- I have a confession to make.

I am an addict.

Now, don't become alarmed. My addiction is legal, safe, and relatively inexpensive. You see, I am a compulsive gum chewer. Yes, yes, I know. It's a filthy and rude habit. But I try to be a tidy and respectful addict. I always carefully dispose of my gum wrappers. I never ever stick my chewed-up gum on the bottoms of desks or chairs. And my brand of choice is the benign Extra Sugarless (peppermint flavor), which even carries the American Dental Association seal of approval.

But make no mistake: I am not a casual gum chewer. While I'm at work, I chew pretty much all day, every day. I have a drawer in my workstation filled with packs of Extra Sugarless, and each week it has to be refilled. While I'm home, I mainly chew first thing in the morning and after meals and snacks.

Why do I do this? I suppose for the same reason that General Santa Anna, according to legend, gave his men chewing gum. It relaxes me, puts my mind at ease, and relieves stress and tension. In short, it helps me work. Speaking of Santa Anna and chewing gum, I've always wondered whether the infamous Alamo tour scene from Pee-wee's Big Adventure was intended as an "in joke." Notice that Jan Hooks takes a piece of gum out of her mouth immediately after saying the name "Santa Anna."

Anyway, like other kinds of addicts, I have used my dependency as an inspiration for my art. Below is my portrait of The Who, drawn in ball-point pen on Extra Sugarless gum wrappers.

The Who, drawn on gum wrappers. (artwork by Joe Blevins)

Experimental ZOMBY: A meditation on absence and abandonment

A suitcase on a bed. A closed door. A group of mirthless travelers standing in line. Finally, an empty airport. In today's Ziggy, these are merely the props and settings for a tired gag about airport security. But with the title character removed, this becomes a haunting meditation on absence and abandonment. Someone seems to be discarding his life and his home for unknown reasons, shedding his very existence like a snake sheds his skin. Perhaps all of these people in line are giving up their lives as well. Some catastrophe has caused them to leave behind all that they know. One is reminded of the brilliant 2000 Swedish film, Songs from the Second Floor, which you really ought to see right this minute. Perhaps the trailer will convince you. Keep in mind, the trailer is NSFW but it's Sunday so you shouldn't be at W anyway. Songs comes pretty darned close to being a zombie movie, as you'll soon see, so I hope it is covered someday on Mail Order Zombie.

And thus ends Experimental Zomby week. Join us tomorrow for "classic Zomby."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Three! Three! Three ZOMBYs in ONE!!!!

All this week I've been bitching and moaning about how ugly and repetitive the latest Ziggy cartoons have been. Well, someone must have heard those prayers because today's installment is BEYOND AWESOME! So awesome, in fact, that I have to offer you readers a triple view of it.

First, here's the Zomby Minus Zomby version:

Nice, right? But the look of utter horror on Ziggy's face in the original is so sublime that I must share it with you. With the pesky dialogue removed, this becomes a moment of pure, arbitrary cruelty. Witness for yourself:

And, even though this is "experimental" week, I just had to do a traditional ZOMBY!!! of this one:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Nine YouTube Clips That Depict Mt. Rushmore as a Barbershop Quartet

A tribute to Mount Rushmore by the members of Deep Purple

Here they are! Georgie! Abie! Tommy! Teddy! Performing their greatest hits! (Seriously, it's amazing how much of this stuff there is.) I'm not sure why, but one day I decided to check YouTube to see if there were any videos which in which the giant heads on Mount Rushmore start singing. Boy, were there ever! Here are a few....

1. "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)"

What could be more all-American than... uh, this Scottish pop favorite? This clip employs a Clutch Cargo-type Syncro-Vox effect which works reasonably well, and the arrangement is charming. If nothing else, this gives us all a chance to think about Benny & Joon for a few seconds. Rating: 4 out of 5 Abes.

2. "Sing"

Ah, "Sing" by the Carpenters... I can remember when I thought it was a huge freakin' deal that an actual POP GROUP on the RADIO was singing a song from Sesame Street. I don't know what any of this has to do with the American Presidents, though. The limited animation is both creepy and effective. The eyes kind of weird me out. Rating: 3.5 Abes.

3. "Bohemian Rhapsody"

Crude but entertaining and to-the-point, this clip focuses just on the "Scaramouche" part of BoRap, which I think is pretty much everybody's favorite part anyway. This is the first clip in the collection to feature those flapping, South Park-style cartoon mouths. Rating: 3 Abes.

4. "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik"

The audio from this is taken from a Family Guy cutaway gag in which Peter Griffin performed as part of "The Four Peters." I barely remember this particular joke, but it's spawned probably a dozen YouTube clips, including this one. Go figure. Cute, though. More South Park mouths here, too. Rating: 3 Abes.

5. "The Longest Time"

Boo! One of those "gotcha!" clips. And it was going so well, too. Rating: 2 Abes.

6. "Dancing With Myself"

Yikes. This one is a bit of a mess, technically speaking, as it switches from one kind of footage to another. And poor Thomas Jefferson looks like Jacob Marley in the 1980s TV movie version of A Christmas Carol. ("I wear the chains I forged in life!") Still a good song, though. Rating: 2.5 Abes.

7. "God Bless the USA"

Meh. I've never been a huge fan of this song (sorry!), and the Presidents are doing Lee Greenwood no favors with this arrangement. C'mon, guys, you have ALL THE TIME in the world! Practice a little, why don't ya? Rating: 1 Abe.

8. "Hail to the Chief"

Now this is what I'm talking about! Not only do Abe and the boys kick things off with a (great) song, but they follow it up with a very funny skit.
Muchacho! Rating: 5 Abes!

9. "Bohemian Rhapsody" (again!)

Less is sometimes more. Case in point, this clip includes (I think) the whole song. I don't know. I haven't gotten through it all the way. Not that I have anything against the song, of course, but I don't think I want five minutes of this animation. Rating: 2.5 Abes.

Experimental ZOMBY: You have defeated me, Tom Wilson.

Tom Wilson II, current writer and artist of Ziggy.


Today, for the first time in months, I am not offering you a parody -- zombie-fied or otherwise -- of the most-current Ziggy cartoon. The reason? The cartoon in question could suck the chrome off a fender. It's yet another scene of Ziggy talking to yet another generic female functionary who sits behind yet another brown desk. There's nothing I can do with it.

Congratulations, Tom Wilson (or more likely, Tom Wilson II). You have broken my spirit, you magnificent bastard. I bow to you.

Because today's Ziggy is for all intents and purposes unusable, I offer instead a TRIUMVIRATE! of vintage Ziggys, all with the eponymous character tastefully removed.


P.S. - I especially like the one with the bird looking at the hamburger.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Experimental ZOMBY: Damsels in an avocado-colored nightmare world!

For the second day in a row, Zomby Minus Zomby offers you a flaxen-haired generic female functionary trapped in a guacamole-tinted nightmare room. There are no doors, no windows, no natural light or hope of escape. Just corners.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Experimental ZOMBY: The horror of the unknown

As countless horror movies have demonstrated, sometimes what we don't see is much scarier than what we do see. There is inherent terror in the unknown, the unseen. Take, for example, today's Zomby Minus Zomby. What, exactly, is causing our generic female functionary to back away from her computer screen in alarm?

We shall never know.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Ziggy/Zomby coloring conundrum

Here, gentle reader, is how yesterday's Zomby Minus Zomby should have looked:

I said this was going to be an experimental week, and I see now that I was right.

It's been a few years since I did those original cartoons removing Ziggy from Ziggy, and since then something dreadful has happened to the coloring of the strip. Back then, the weekday Ziggys used solid blocks of flat color -- which to me worked very well with the very cartoony, stylized look of the feature and gave it a bold, bright look. Now, though, the colorists are using these wimpy "naturalistic" colors which fade in and out. It must be some cheap, easy Photoshop effect. In a word, I hate it. So I guess this week, I will also be "color correcting" the cartoons as I see fit.

Here's a side-by-side comparison of the two cartoons which illustrates the coloring difference. (Fading colors vs. solid colors.)

Experimental ZOMBY: A goldfish dreams of a better life...

This is a perfect example of why I wanted to do a week of Zomby Minus Zomby. The original Ziggy today is some humorless crap in which the Z-man criticizes his pet goldfish for not being as entertaining as cats or dogs. But in my version, the goldfish takes center stage. He stares soulfully, wistfully at the image of an animal (a dog? a cat? a pony?) on the TV screen and yearns for a life he can never have. Adding poignancy to the scene is the fact that the television seemingly depicts a bleak winter landscape. To the goldfish, even this is preferable to his confinement in a glass bowl.

Monday, April 18, 2011

ZOMBY: The week-long experiment begins!

You might be thinking, "That sucks. Where's Zomby?" Allow me to explain. Several years ago, I became quite fascinated by two ongoing parodies of Garfield. The more famous one, Garfield Minus Garfield, takes existing Garfield strips and merely removes the title character. The second, arguably more creative spoof is called Arbuckle and alters Jim Davis' original strips in two ways: the artwork is entirely redone (in a variety of styles by numerous artists) and Garfield's thought bubbles are removed. The basic point of both GMG and Arbuckle are the same: when you remove Garfield's wisecracks, his owner Jon Arbuckle is revealed as a deeply disturbed and lonely man.

Inspired by those parodies, I wanted to see what would be revealed if the title character were removed from Tom Wilson's long-running cartoon feature Ziggy. I found some of the results to be startling. Without its titular bald man, Ziggy became a record of a strange, surreal, haunted world where either: (a) characters rage impotently at no one, or (b) nothing happens whatsoever. Take a look:

I've been meaning to return to that world for a few years, and I've decided to do so through my blog all this week. Now, granted, today's cartoon isn't particularly suited for the Zomby Minus Zomby treatment. But I can only work with what I'm given.

And if it's any kind of bonus to you, all the cartoons this week will be in color. If this doesn't appeal to you, things will be back to normal by next Monday. In the meantime, try to appreciate these cartoons as opportunities for restful meditation.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

ZOMBY is the ideal television viewer (with BONUS Chuck Woolery!)

I myself have never watched the Scribble Channel, but I used to be an avid viewer of Scrabble with Chuck Woolery. Awesome show.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mummies may not be zombies, but ZOMBY essentially is "The Mummy"

First, today's installment of ZOMBY!!!

If you've been following this comic for the last four months, you know the drill by now: Zomby is a very passive, utterly harmless character but everyone around him treats him as a horribly dangerous monster simply because he is, as his name implies, a zombie. While doing today's episode, I realized where I first encountered this pattern.

"The Mummy."

No, I don't mean the Boris Karloff movie or the Brendan Fraser movie... or any movie, actually. I'm talking about a 1959 novelty record credited to Bob McFadden & Dor. Bob McFadden (1923-2000) was a veteran voice actor whose most famous roles include Snarf on Thundercats, Milton the Monster, and Franken Berry. "Dor" was famed beatnik poet Rod McKuen. Why McKuen and McFadden ever teamed up to make a record is beyond me, but here it is:

Along with those original Chipmunks 45s, "The Mummy" is one of those records my mother passed down to me and which I must have played a thousand times. To this day, I can recreate from memory the entire dialogue between McFadden's mild-mannered mummy and McKuen's utterly unimpressed beatnik. (The record's groovy b-side, "The Beat Generation," is maybe even better but has no bearing on this discussion. Promise me you'll check it out anyway.)

Whether mummies count as zombies is perhaps a matter for the horror connoisseurs to discuss. But there can be little doubt that Zomby is a spiritual descendant of "The Mummy."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Damn it, ZOMBY, join a gym or something!

If all you do is sit around watching TV, you'll never be able to catch up with those meatbags who are running away from you!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Forget the T-Mobile girl! All hail Jesse Meriwether, the Cootie Queen!

Jesse Meriwether, the most talented actress in television commercials today.

Well, readers, you have made my article about the T-Mobile girl, Carly Foulkes, the second-most-viewed article in the blog's 1.5-year history, and it seems destined to one day even overtake the one about zombie Justin Bieber in terms of total views. For whatever reason, these are the posts that have generated the most reader interest.

But you know what? I don't really care about Justin Beiber or Carly Foulkes. I mean, I hope they both have long, successful careers and happy lives, but that's about it. Neither one is truly worthy of your attention, readers.

Who is worthy? Jesse Meriwether. The name may not be instantly recognizable. Her IMDb page lists only one credit, a 2010 short film called Kleshnov, although her resume mentions appearances in Runaway Jury and Monsters Ball and "tons of theatrical experience." But Meriwether is not yet known for her film or stage work. Instead, she is an artist whose chosen medium is the television commercial. I'm certain you have seen her in an ad for Orbit gum called "Euphemisms," in which she plays a businessman's feisty mistress:

And "Euphemisms" is just the beginning. Ms. Meriwether is an actress of remarkable range. At one point in her life, bless her heart, she even got made up as a zombie:

Jesse Meriwether in zombie makeup.

To me, Meriwether is an actress with a great look and terrific comic timing. She reminds me of Shelley Duvall meets Julie Hagerty. So what do you say, Hollywood? You found a place for Shelley and Julie. Why not clear some room for Jesse Meriwether?

"Quarantine"... now starring ZOMBY!!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Vampires! Zombies! Billy Crystal! Helen Mirren! Kurt's Dad from"Glee"!

If you haven't seen this on Funny Or Die yet, it's a fake trailer for a sequel to When Harry Met Sally. It eventually takes a turn for the living impaired, which is why I'm mentioning it on my blog. Along the way, look for cameos by... well, everybody currently in show business.

ZOMBY: 411 is a joke!

You lucky readers have your choice of punchlines today: