Wondermark: Rockin’ the Laundry

Recently I discovered Wondermark, a comic strip remixed from old woodcuts and other art by artist David Malki. What makes Wondermark so entertaining is the juxtaposition of 19th-century artwork and 21st-century dialogue.

Wondermark comes out on Tuesday and Fridays. Today’s strip is a hilarious example (linked):

Malki describes his art sources:

Wondermark is created from 19th-Century woodcuts and engravings, scanned from my personal collection of old books and also from volumes in the Los Angeles Central Library. Most of the books are bound volumes of general-interest magazines such as Harper’s, Frank Leslie’s and Punch, but my collection also includes special-interest magazines such as Scientific American, Sears-Roebuck catalogs, storybooks, and primers.

AB — 26 January 2010

Tonight’s Blue Moon in History and Song

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, the expression “blue moon” usually has nothing to do with the moon’s color.

Tonight’s full moon is a “blue moon,” meaning it’s the second full moon of December 2009 — one of those things that doesn’t happen very often, as the moon is full every 28 days and the longest months are 31 days. We get a blue moon once every two or three years.

History of the Blue Moon

Historically, the phrase “blue moon” has been used mostly as a general term for a very unusual event, according to the Wikipedia entry. It’s only been used to refer to the second full moon in a month since 1946.

Wikipedia gives two alternative explanations for the origin of the term:

1. A 1528 pamphlet critical of the clergy, which ranted that “Yf they say the mone is belewe / We must believe that it is true.” So this indicates that the phrase was used to refer to “absurdities and impossibilities” in general.

2. The other explanation rests on an alternative meaning for “belewe” in Old English: betrayer. In this case, the moon could be called a betrayer if it led to a mistake in calculating when Easter should occur.

The Blue Moon in Song

The “Blue Moon” has been the subject of popular songs — following are some of the greatest (all these links take you to samples of the cuts mentioned):

“Blue Moon” — Maybe the best-known version is the doo-wop version recorded by the Marcels in 1961. The song was actually written in 1934 by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. It’s been recorded by many artists, but my personal favorite is Bob Dylan’s version on his 1989 Self Portrait album.

“Blue Moon of Kentucky” — A bluegrass song written by Bill Monroe, but also recorded in a more rockin’ version by Elvis Presley. I think my favorite version, though, is the one by Patsy Cline.

“Blue Moon Nights” — Appears on John Fogerty’s excellent solo album Blue Moon Swamp.

“Once in a Very Blue Moon” — My favorite “blue moon” song of all is this exquisite number by Nancy Griffith, co-written with Pat Alger.

Interestingly, the Wikipedia entry does say that sometimes the moon actually can look blue because of smoke or dust in the atmosphere.

AB — 31 December 2009

Great Remix: The Mother of All Funk Chords

Ever since Stanford Professor Larry Lessig spoke about remix (among other intellectual-property topics) for us at the ILO Institute a couple of years ago, I’ve been fascinated by the subject and have watched out for particularly creative examples.

Yesterday I commented on a new one I’ve found called “Auto-Tune the News.”

However, my favorite example remains “The Mother of All Funk Chords” — a great music mix that brings together clips from across geographies and cultures and age-groups — and across decades of time:

AB — 3 Sept. 2009