Computer Games

from the second season of Look Around You, still criminally unavailable on region 1 dvd.


And Then It Happened

Holy smokes, 1972 was a terrible time to be a school bus driver. Dealing with smokers, porno magazines, knife fights, dogs and rats running loose, drug overdoses... all before the morning bell rings. Those kids had it coming.

This well-paced film with its trashy, authentic, early 70's "Last House on the Left"- style mise en scène is a nice compliment to the austerity of Ghost Rider, a previously posted bus safety video.


The Plant People

A blog post over at Kindertrauma.com jolted my memory like a cranial hemorrhage; The Plant People was a late-70's page-turner I must have gotten from my school book club (or from my mom, who worked for a children's book publisher). I remember the story being very creepy and bleak, but most indelible are the photographs used as illustrations, looking like stills from a cheap-but-surreal exploitation movie:

More photos at Kindertrauma. Buy the used book through Amazon.



Heroes at the Mall

I've just discovered Plaidstallions.com, an impressively exhaustive compendium of 70's pop culture. One of the many highlights is a gallery of reader-submitted photos of marvel superheroes doing promotional appearances. View it HERE.

Also, this cover of the 1980 Remco toy catalog cracked me up:


The Fabulous World of Jules Verne

Karel Zeman's gorgeous 1958 fantasy is unavailable commercially on dvd, but you can see the whole feature on youtube starting here.

A decent write-up on the film is here.

(also, I'll be traveling abroad for the next 2.5 weeks, so I'm switching Futurechimp.com over to autopilot. New posts will magically appear almost every day, but I probably won't have the opportunity to respond to comments or emails.)


Music for Monkeys

Italicized text has been excerpted from npr.org:

Music has great power to alter our emotions — making us happy or sad, agitated or calm. Psychologists have tried in vain to figure out why that happens. Now, a composer says he's has a clue. And he got it by writing music not for humans, but for monkeys.

David Teie plays cello with the National Symphony Orchestra, and has been developing a theory to explain why music plays on human emotions. His theory is that music relates to the most primitive sounds we make and respond to, like laughter, heartbeats, or a mother's cooing. "When I thought I had all the pieces put into place, I figured any good theory is testable, so one of the ways to test it would be to see if I could write music that would be affective for species other than human," he says.

He wrote to Chuck Snowdon, a psychology professor who managed a colony of monkeys called cotton-top tamarins at the University of Wisconsin. Snowdon was happy to cooperate and sent Teie recordings he'd made in the lab. One recording was of a monkey that felt threatened by a veterinarian. "He's very upset," Snowdon explains. "He's coming out to the front of the cage to attack or to show aggressiveness." He also sent a screechy sound that, believe it or not, monkeys make when they're feeling mellow.

With those samples and a few others as a starting point, Teie composed music for monkeys. "Basically I took those elements and patterned them the way we do normally with music," he says. "You repeat them, take them up a [musical] third — you know, using the same kind of compositional techniques we use in human music."

He played the compositions on his cello and then electronically boosted them up three octaves, to a pitch that matched the monkeys' voices. Monkeys don't respond at all to music written for humans, but they did respond when they heard this composition.

Snowdon says people may not be calmed by this relatively fast tempo of one of the pieces, but the monkeys in his lab certainly were. "This is a rhythm that approaches the resting heart rate of a tamarin and had this calming effect on them even though the pum-pum-pum in the background was maybe a bit faster than we would expect as humans for this music."

Compare that with the music Teie wrote to try and agitate the monkeys:

"Monkeys reacted to this by increasing their movement," Snowdon says. "They moved faster through their environment. And they also showed increase in a whole variety of behaviors we have associated with anxiety."

Being that there are very few commercial opportunites for monkey music, and possibly taking a cue from Raymond Scott's Soothing Sounds for Baby and all those 70's Music for Plants records, Teie has already started a website and company that makes music for cats. Listen to samples HERE.