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Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Stolen By Pirates And Other Batshit Mental Theories In The British Tabloids

WHAT happened to Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is exciting the British tabloids:

The Sun

 

Screen shot 2014 03 14 at 22.37.44 Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Stolen By Pirates And Other Batshit Mental Theories In The British Tabloids

 

 

The Mirror

 

Screen shot 2014 03 14 at 22.38.34 Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Stolen By Pirates And Other Batshit Mental Theories In The British Tabloids

 

 

 

She told the Mirror: “I first heard about the website at 9.30am and looked at 867 images before I had a break. My partner thought I was mad, but I just had to go back and after looking through three more images I found this. I just went, ‘Oh my God, I think I’ve found the plane!”

Oh?

Ms Eyre has tagged the image to bring it to the attention of the website, although it is thought the image might be of a plane in flight.

Oh.

 

The Express

Of course!

Screen shot 2014 03 14 at 22.35.03 Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Stolen By Pirates And Other Batshit Mental Theories In The British Tabloids

 

 

And the winner is:

Screen shot 2014 03 16 at 21.22.32 Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Stolen By Pirates And Other Batshit Mental Theories In The British Tabloids

 

 

But wait a moment…

hijack Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Stolen By Pirates And Other Batshit Mental Theories In The British Tabloids

 

 

The inevitable:

 

Screen shot 2014 03 17 at 22.07.38 Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Stolen By Pirates And Other Batshit Mental Theories In The British Tabloids

 

 

And the news that the plane is…behind you!

 

Screen shot 2014 03 17 at 22.01.41 Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Stolen By Pirates And Other Batshit Mental Theories In The British Tabloids

 

 

Posted: 14th, March 2014 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Glenn O’Brien’s TV Party – When Manhattan Cable Television Went Punk And Debbie Harry Taught Us To Pogo

GLENN O’Brien’s New York TV show TV Party ran from 1978 to 1982. Before we get to the episode where Blondie’s Debbie Harry taught the cool kids how to pogo like the British punks, Glenn explains what it was and why it happened:

 

Screen shot 2014 03 14 at 19.26.26 Glenn O’Brien’s TV Party   When Manhattan Cable Television Went Punk And Debbie Harry Taught Us To Pogo

 

Glenn O’Brien writes:

In 1978, I was writing a column called Glenn O’Brien’s BEAT for Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine. I was also contributing to High Times, art magazines and foreign music magazines. I had no ambition to write for the square press, I had already been through Rolling Stone and Esquire and Playboy and I was trying to do something more artistic.

 

Andy Warhols Interview 1977 Glenn O’Brien’s TV Party   When Manhattan Cable Television Went Punk And Debbie Harry Taught Us To Pogo

 

It wasn’t hard to make a living as a freelance writer then. My apartment on St. Mark’s Place cost $100 a month, and I was able to pay my rent by selling unwanted review albums to St. Mark’s Records. I had a white Toyota Corolla, with out of state plates and no insurance. Every night I drove around town, hitting all the clubs. I got in and drank for free. The Mudd Club was my living room. Danceteria was my rec room. I was the Damon Runyan/Walter Winchell/Ed Sullivan of the new wave scene.

Ed Sullivan was the benchmark. As Steve Dollar notes, another man was the Ed Sullivan of the underground:

As the host of “The Live! Show” on Manhattan Cable Television’s Channel J, Mr. Davidovich appeared in the guise of “Dr. Videovich,” presiding over a Vaudevillian enterprise “that was like a combination of Ernie Kovacs meeting Cabaret Voltaire,” he said. “I was the Ed Sullivan of the avant-garde.” It was 1979, and Manhattan public access television was hitting its eccentric stride.

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Posted: 14th, March 2014 | In: Flashback, Key Posts, TV & Radio | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Dutch Gone Wild: 10 Insane Record Covers From The Netherlands

THE Internet has certainly done its fair share of mockery when it comes to vintage album covers from America and the UK.  How about we spread the snarkiness to a less traveled geography – say, the Netherlands?  Yes, I know Dutch singles are a ridiculously small niche, but there are some ridiculously bad covers to explore.  Take a look.

 

7 10 2012 8 15 44 PM Dutch Gone Wild: 10 Insane Record Covers From The Netherlands

 

Was there a social program in Amsterdam which allowed the city’s homeless and insane to make records?  I’m just curious.

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Posted: 14th, March 2014 | In: Flashback, Key Posts, Music | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Their Last Known Photograph: Five Found-Footage Horror Movies That Deserve a Second Look

foundfootage3 300x182 Their Last Known Photograph: Five Found Footage Horror Movies That Deserve a Second Look

 

THE found-footage horror film genre is one that isn’t often appreciated. The late Roger Ebert himself once wrote that movies of this type often consist of “low quality home video footage,” are “usually under-lit,” are “lacking in pacing” and seem “intentionally hard to comprehend.”

Indeed, there seems to be the pervasive misconception that a found-footage horror movie is somehow easy to shoot and produce. You don’t need a star, for example, or much of a budget either, to make such a film. You don’t even need expensive equipment.

All an intrepid film crew needs is a good concept, and a whole lot of shakin.’

None of this is true.

A good found-footage horror film — while cut-off in large part from the elegance, structure, and language of traditional film grammar — nonetheless has its merits.

For one thing, found-footage films ramp-up the experiential or immersing aspects of the genre. The hand-held camera-work provokes a brand of immediacy and urgency that other horror sub-genres can’t necessarily emulate.

Horror movies in general concern situations that are impossible to escape, set in isolated locations.  The found-footage genre runs with this idea, landing its stars in frightening landscapes and then charting a kind of pressure-cooker intensity as terror boils over.

For another thing, the compositions in found-footage films must appear spontaneous and on-the-fly, all while simultaneously capturing crucial action. This balancing act requires quite a bit of legerdemain.

A unique development of cinema-verite documentary techniques, the found-footage horror film thus requires patient preparation of shots, split-second timing, long takes, and a certain brand of non-theatrical or “naturalistic” performance that not every actor can easily master.

The overt critical dislike and disregard for the found-footage genre reminds me very much of the critical hand-wringing that occurred in the 1980s over the slasher movie formula, or in the mid-2000s over so-called “torture porn.”

Basically, movie critics are always finding some reason to object to horror’s latest trend, even as audiences are ahead of the curve, and excavating reasons to appreciate the new format.

In short, a good found-footage film — such as the genre’s classic, The Blair Witch Project (1999) — isn’t just a case of point-and-run film-making. In The Blair Witch, for instance, artistry can be detected in the escalation of the film’s throat-tightening terror, and there is even a clever sub-text about the camera operating as a “filter” that occludes reality.

The found-footage film genre has many undisputed highs, from [REC] (2007) to Trollhunter (2008), but the five found-footage horror films featured below have generally been dismissed by critics, even though they possess abundant virtues not necessarily associated with this derided sub-genre.

 

 

foundfootage1 300x192 Their Last Known Photograph: Five Found Footage Horror Movies That Deserve a Second Look

 

1. Apollo 18 (2011)

You know your movie has been poorly received when it is the butt of a joke in another found-footage horror movie (Grave Encounters 2 [2012]).

But reception aside, Apollo 18 boasts a value that found-footage movies aren’t supposed to reflect: excellent production design.

The movie is actually a period piece, set in 1972, during the last days of NASA’s Apollo program.  The film concerns a failed space mission to the moon, and the discovery of terrible creatures on the lunar surface.

In this case, tremendous attention has been paid to making certain that the film’s sets and wardrobes are appropriate and correct to the disco decade epoch.  The film grain is right too, and the result is that Apollo 18 looks very much like footage of a real space program venture.  The retro (low) tech wonders of the film are actually quite remarkable, from the Lunar Lander interior and astronaut spacesuits to the Rover mock-up.  There is no hint in the visuals that this is modern fakery.

Similarly, if the game of the found-footage movie is to find an inhospitable or dangerous terrain, and then chart the mental and physical disintegration of the characters’ trapped there, then Apollo 18 must represent an apotheosis of sorts.  The whole movie is set on Earth’s moon.  The vast, desolate landscape is recreated ably on a low budget, and viewers understand immediately that this is a realm of a million dangers, and virtually no sanctuary whatsoever.

With convincing mock-ups and locations, Apollo 18 asks its audience to dwell, essentially, in an extended moment of fear and isolation, with no genuine hope of escape.  One touching moment involves an astronaut – knowing he shall never see home again – playing a recording of his wife and son over and over; reaching out for something, anything human and comforting.

Again, critics want to tell you the characters in the film are indistinguishable and you never care about them.  But this scene of human longing and separation puts truth to that lie.

 

 

foundfootage2 300x168 Their Last Known Photograph: Five Found Footage Horror Movies That Deserve a Second Look

 

2. Grave Encounters (2011)

Again, this is a found-footage movie that received largely negative reviews, but a positive audience response.  And again, it boasts an intellectual or aesthetic quality that found-footage movies supposedly don’t possess: satirical insight.

In this case, the filmmakers mercilessly and humorously roast reality-TV conventions, and especially those of the Ghost Hunter-type show variety.  In programs of this type, every little cold spot and door squeak is made into a paranormal event of historical proportions.  Accordingly, Grave Encounters involves a team of reality-star wannabes, led by Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson), as these actors investigate a purportedly haunted mental institution.

In short order, the audience sees Lance pay a gardener on the sanitarium grounds twenty-dollars to claim that he’s seen ghosts.  And the group’s psychic, Houston, is worried about possibly missing an important audition.  When Houston goes “big” and suggests that there’s a demonic presence in the asylum, he asks — after the take — if was “too much.”

What Grave Encounters tells audiences is that everything you see on reality TV is phony.

Of course, horror movies must punish those who transgress, and these narcissists in Grave Encounters soon find themselves in a hospital where there is no escape. The asylum seems to rewrite reality itself, and the blasé actors – who have used real life tragedy as the source for their “drama” and stardom – are suddenly faced with a true understanding of madness.

Grave Encounters bucks all the stereotypical criticisms of the found-footage genre, and meaningfully (and scarily…) critiques an aspect of our culture: the quest for fame at all costs.

 

 

foundfootage4 300x225 Their Last Known Photograph: Five Found Footage Horror Movies That Deserve a Second Look

 

3. Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

The best of the durable Paranormal Activity films, Paranormal Activity 3 is simply a superior scare machine.

It features some of the best jump scares in the franchise, and more than that, does so by generating the rare quality of attention, or patience.  Again, critics of the found-footage format want to convince audiences that these films are slap-dash cash grabs that appeal to the lowest-common denominator.  They’re cheap and gimmicky!

If that’s the case, how does one account for a film like Paranormal Activity 3, which possesses long stretches of silence and stillness, and demands engagement on the part of the viewer? Here is a film that instead of rewarding a short attention span, rewards patience.

So much of this sequel’s running time is devoted to a camera panning back and forth in a room, or the quiet recording of apparently vacant areas of a suburban house. This technique not only generates suspense, it encourages one to look closely at absolutely everything, to make a mental snapshot in your head of what item is where, what light is turned on, and what, if anything, is moving in the frame.

In a way, this very technique mirrors how it feels to wake up, sleepily, in the middle of the night (after hearing a noise) and scanning the environs.  Paranormal Activity 3 is all about the potent idea of sleepy twilight, of being awake at 3:15 in the morning, and not quite having an accurate sense of what is going on.  The world is at slumber — or should be — but something insidious lurks just at the edges of perception.

We’ve all experienced this feeling, and can relate to the characters’ situations.

 

 

foundfootage5 300x200 Their Last Known Photograph: Five Found Footage Horror Movies That Deserve a Second Look

 

4. V/H/S (2012)

The first found-footage anthology, this omnibus film is a social commentary on the fact that the home video revolution of the 1980s — now thirty years old — has transformed all of us into  directors, actors,  historians, journalists…even porno stars.

Imagine for a moment millions of people possessing home movie tapes, and then imagine what becomes of those tapes after three decades.

In whose hands to they end up? What purpose do they serve? What value do they possess?

V/H/S explore five unsettling genre stories vetted from a first-person perspective, and the wraparound narrative device involves a group of small-time miscreants desperately searching for one particular video tape in the house of a (presumably) dead tape collector.

Several tapes are viewed, and all are recordings of dark, sinister events.  In virtually every situation, the video camera is used to hurt someone: to trick a gullible woman into sex, to record a carefully-plotted murder, to convince a scared girlfriend  not to seek help when something strange starts happening to her, and so forth.

I once called this film “America’s Scariest Home Videos,” but it’s more than that: V/H/S is s chronicle of the weird turn that the home video revolution has taken.

Today, we have cameras on our phones and on our tablets, and we have the capacity to record our entire lives.  But what if we are recording something else too?  What if all the recording technology of the last thirty years is merely creating a tapestry of suffering and inhumanity?  What if we are simply documenting our cruelty?

Again, it’s all too easy to dismiss this film (and its good, 2013 sequel as well…) as a gore-fest, but V/H/S explores – in horrifying fashion – the nexus of modern technology and modern morality.

 

 

 

foundfootage6 300x182 Their Last Known Photograph: Five Found Footage Horror Movies That Deserve a Second Look

5. The Devil’s Pass (2013)

This found-footage effort from Renny Harlin starts out as a meticulous exploration of the (still-unsolved) Dyatlov Pass Incident in Russia.  A group of hikers died under mysterious circumstances in 1959, on the so-called “Mountain of Death.”

A film that seems in danger of being a simple Blair Witch Project knock-off, however, instead showcases something else that found-footage  movies are often accused of lacking: imagination.

Before The Devil’s Pass is over, the movie has devised a (crazy…) solution to the real-life mystery, offered up a unified theory of conspiracies and the paranormal, and even had the grace and literacy to wink at Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5.   The movie incorporates Indian cave drawings and the Philadelphia Experiment, and ends with an audacious final twist that will leave your jaw agape.

Sure, the actors aren’t great, and the early scenes are clunky, but The Devil’s Pass’s final act runs on pure, unadulterated, gonzo imagination. The movie goes courageously for broke, breaking out of format conventions and generating a lingering horror that lasts long beyond the end credits.

 

foundfootage7 300x152 Their Last Known Photograph: Five Found Footage Horror Movies That Deserve a Second Look

 

Each one of the aforementioned films is worth watching, and each one puts truth to the lie that the found footage genre is running on empty.

Apollo 18 is an accomplished period piece, Grave Encounters a satire of reality TV culture and ethos, Paranormal Activity 3 a waking dream that requires active participation on the part of the audience, V/H/S a dedicated critique of  our modern technology, and The Devil’s Pass  is the most imaginative and daring horror film to come down the line in quite a while.

Posted: 14th, March 2014 | In: Film, Flashback, Key Posts | Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


The Blind Beggar And The Bloody Killing of George Cornell by Ronnie Kray

Ronnie Kray Police Photo1 The Blind Beggar And The Bloody Killing of George Cornell by Ronnie Kray

Ronald Kray 1969 – At last in Gaol.

 

ONE hundred and one years after the evangelist William Booth preached his first open air sermon outside the Blind Beggar Public House on the Whitechapel Road – a sermon which ultimately led to the establishment of the Salvation Army – Ronald Kray walked into the very same pub. Or at least it would have been the same pub had it not been rebuilt in 1894 by the Mann, Crossman and Paulin’s Albion Brewery at the same address. It was 8.30pm on 9 March 1966 and Kray was accompanied by his right-hand man Ian Barrie, while his driver, John ‘Scotch Jack’ Dickson, was told to wait outside in his Mark 1 Cortina.

A pub had been on the same spot in Whitechapel since 1673 and it was named after Henry de Montfort, the son of the Earl of Leicester, who is said to have posed as a blind beggar to escape detection after the battle of Evesham in 1265. Of course Ronald Kray wouldn’t have been the first villain, big-time or otherwise, who had found themselves in that infamous East End pub. Before the First World War the Blind Beggar was the meeting-place of a gang of pick-pockets and ne’er do wells. One of them called ‘Bulldog’ Wallis got into a fight with a Jewish couple and ended up killing the man by pushing the tip of his umbrella through one of his eyes. The East End code of silence prevailed and ‘no one saw nuffink’ and Wallis had to be released from police custody through lack of evidence. Accompanied by his cheering supporters he returned to the Blind Beggar a hero.

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Posted: 14th, March 2014 | In: Flashback, Key Posts | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


X Factor Winners Watch: Sam Bailey Plays Asda Toilets In Leicester

SO. What did X Factor winner Sam ‘ScrewBo’ Bailey do next? A Hollywood biopic? A number one album? A chair on Loose Women?

 

 

Screen shot 2014 03 14 at 10.15.15 X Factor Winners Watch: Sam Bailey Plays Asda Toilets In Leicester

 

Spotter: @Popjustice

 

Posted: 14th, March 2014 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, TV & Radio | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


“It’s A Cook Book!” Television’s Five Most Horrifying Alien Invasions

invaderslead 300x171 “It’s A Cook Book!” Television’s Five Most Horrifying Alien Invasions

 

ARTHUR C. Clarke once wrote that “two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe, or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.”

In terms of television programming, however, the idea of alien life existing in the universe has far and away proven the more dramatic and oft-depicted “terror.”

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Posted: 13th, March 2014 | In: Flashback, Key Posts, TV & Radio | Comments (2) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Bryan Cranston: Teen Heartthrob

sidebyside breaking bad Bryan Cranston: Teen Heartthrob

 

AS hard as it may be to imagine that the dark and intense meth maker of Breaking Bad was once a teen heartthrob, it’s true.  In the mid-1980s Bryan Cranston was a dreamboat for teenage girls.  So, when I came across the March 1985 issue of Teen Talk magazine, I couldn’t help but share his wonderfully cheesy pictorial.  In light of the hardcore image Cranston acquired from Breaking Bad, it’s all the more humorous to see him described as an affable Prince Charming.

 

7428627916 a40287749d h Bryan Cranston: Teen Heartthrob

 

The issue also featured the likes of Duran Duran, Ralph Macchio, Prince, and Menudo.  Poor Cranston didn’t have enough celeb status to get a mention on the cover.  But the future Heisenberg did warrant a two page spread entitled “Bryan Cranston: He’s a Good Sport”.   The article begins:

If you’re a fan of ABC-TV’s “Loving” you’ve probably fallen in love yourself – with actor Bryan Cranston.  His character, drama professor Doug Donovan, is the resident good guy: sensitive, vulnerable and more than a little good-looking.  So when Bryan recently called TEEN TALK and invited us to join him in his work out in Manhattan’s Central Park, we jumped at the chance.

 

closeup1 Bryan Cranston: Teen Heartthrob

“If you were a bat, could you keep your eye on the ball?” Actually, with those short-shorts, it would be pretty hard not to spot a ball (or two).

 

The article continues:

To our delight, we discovered that the real-life Bryan is every bit as nice as Doug, and he’s a great athlete, too.  “Growing up, I always wanted to be a baseball star,” he told us.  In high school, he played baseball, football and tennis.  Now acting is his major passion, but as you can see, he spends plenty of time keeping in shape.  “I take an hour-long aerobics class that I really enjoy, “he says.  (So do all the girls in his class!)  “I also love to play sports.”

 

closeup 2 Bryan Cranston: Teen Heartthrob

 

Last spring, Bryan organized a soap star football game – “Loving” vs. “All My Children.”  “It was fun,” he jokes, “but unfortunately, ‘All My Children’ cheated, so they beat us!”  Bryan’s next project is organizing a soap star baseball game, with good guys pitted against bad guys.  “I’d like it to be for the public,” he says.

We can’t wait for the game, but meantime, these exclusive pictures of our day with Bryan should score high with you.

 

closeup3 Bryan Cranston: Teen Heartthrob

 

And so ends this lovely bit of journalism.  I never knew Cranston was such an all-around athlete.  One minute he’s jumping rope (“Bryan’s got such great legs!”), the next he’s juggling, and the next he’s creating the purest methamphetamine on the planet…. well, that last part comes later.

 

closeup4 Bryan Cranston: Teen Heartthrob

 

Hey, actors have got to start somewhere.  It’s not uncommon for actors to rise up through the ranks, starting in soap operas and ending up critically acclaimed superstars.  However, there’s just something particularly amusing about seeing Walter White as a young buck, hamming it up for a teen magazine.

 

closeup5 Bryan Cranston: Teen Heartthrob

Posted: 13th, March 2014 | In: Celebrities, Flashback, Key Posts | Comments (2) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Meet The Megachurch Pastor Who ‘Conned’ You Into Buying His Fake NYT Bestseller Book

mark driscoll bullshit Meet The Megachurch Pastor Who Conned You Into Buying His Fake NYT Bestseller Book

 

MARK Driscoll is a Christian preacher at Seattle’s Mars Hill Church. He is billed on the megachurch’s website as a “Preaching and Vision Pastor”.

Pastor Mark Driscoll is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Church—based in Seattle, Washington—and one of the most popular preachers in the world today. In 2010, Preaching magazine named him one of the 25 most influential pastors of the past 25 years…

Pastor Mark is the author of over 15 books, and has also written for CNN and The Washington Post, and been featured as a columnist for The Seattle Times.

He values media. And:

Most importantly, Pastor Mark is a husband to Grace and a father to the “fab five” Driscoll kids. He’s grateful to be a nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody.

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Posted: 12th, March 2014 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


When Home Computers Caused Raptures of Transcendental Ecstasy

BELIEVE it or not, it was a hard sell in the early 1980s to convince people to buy a computer for the home.  The contraptions were insanely expensive, and they simply couldn’t do a whole lot.  Something as simple as filing recipes was a tall order for an ’82 PC.  Of course, we were happy with terrible graphics because we knew nothing better – yet, as enticing as having Pong in the living room did sound, the expense was simply out of the ballpark for most families.

Subsequently, it was time for advertisers to play hard ball.  No longer were they selling you something that would be a nice asset to your home office or entertainment center.  Those days were over. Now, it was being sold as a piece of equipment that was quite literally going to gob smack your very soul.  This wasn’t a simple piece of hardware like a microwave  – this was a trans-dimensional gift from the gods, and you will never – I repeat, NEVER – be the same.

The tactic worked, and the masses lined up to splurge their life savings on computers and games.  Here are some of the images and adverts during the height of the digital penetration….

 

101 Amazing It can divide When Home Computers Caused Raptures of Transcendental Ecstasy

 

Behold the Answer to All Our Prayers.  It’s reminiscent of the apes surrounding the 2001: A Space Odyssey obelisk.  And notice the Holy Aura surrounding this gift from the Heavens.  Never mind the fact that they haven’t figured out yet that it’s facing the wrong way.  No matter.  Timmy’s college fund was well spent.

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Posted: 12th, March 2014 | In: Flashback, Key Posts, Technology | Comments (3) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Brilliant Mel Brooks Knocks Them Bandy In This 1975 Interview

PA 14735134 Brilliant Mel Brooks Knocks Them Bandy In This 1975 Interview

IN 1975, Mel Brooks appeared on Imperial College’s TV station Stoic to talk about his 1975 films Blazing Saddles andYoung Frankenstein. He sat opposite Mark Caldwell. He offers the insight that cowboys “do not make love to women in Westerns”:

“People say I am in questionable taste, you know what I mean? Well, I must tell you that I used the utmost discretion [and] I did not tell the whole truth about the Western, because they do not make love to women, you know that. They are very straight, very Christian and very with it, you know. They do make love to their horses. They do, they do. They don’t marry them, there is no formal ceremony, but they go off somewhere in the night with their horses.”

 

PA 12143846 Brilliant Mel Brooks Knocks Them Bandy In This 1975 Interview

On the set of “Young Frankenstein” in Los Angeles on April 1, 1974, the teenage directors of Life Times Nine” watched Mel Brooks shoot a scene in Dr. Frankenstein’s dungeon and Peter Boyle in green-monster makeup put a friendly strangle-hold on Marilyn Becker, 17.

 

Colin Grimshaw writes on this video:

You can see that I have left the original countdown clock at the front because he couldn’t resist being funny even before we had started to record.

 

Posted: 11th, March 2014 | In: Celebrities, Film, Key Posts | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


The Legion of Regrettable Comic Book Superheroes

WE’VE heard enough about The Avengers, it’s time for another group of superheroes to get some recognition. The Legion of Regrettable Comic Book Superheroes is a motley group consisting of the lamest and oddest heroes ever put to print. You can keep your Iron Man and Captain America; I like my heroes with a touch of stupidity. So, bring on Aqua Melvin, Matter Eater Lad, and the rest of the gang – The Legion of Regrettable Comic Book Superheroes has come to save the day! (or embarrass themselves trying.)

 

MARINE SUPER-CLOWN
Aqua Melvin
Origin: Adventure Comics #242 – Nov. 1957

 

adventure242pg1 The Legion of Regrettable Comic Book Superheroes

 

Aquaman responds to a distress call from a ship and discovers an unconscious Vaudeville clown onboard. If that wasn’t strange enough, the only way to save him is for Aquaman to give him a blood transfusion. Naturally, this imbues him with Aquaman’s powers for 24 hours and insanity ensues.

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Posted: 11th, March 2014 | In: Books, Flashback, Key Posts | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


10 Epic Failed Political Photo-Ops

Failed political photo-ops

DAVID Cameron is facing ridicule once again. His latest gaffe was to tweet a picture of himself looking serious and statesmanlike while having a serious statesmanlike phone call with Barak Obama. The problem, aside from the typically patronising pomposity of the gesture, was that he looked singularly un-statesmanlike. In fact, he resembled nothing do much as a perplexed pudding.

 

Politics1 10 Epic Failed Political Photo Ops

 

Of course, he has plenty of competition in the failed phot-op stakes.

Here’s George Osborne, Chancellor and Chelsea fan, in ‘man of the people’ pose, manfully working late while snacking on a burger and fries. His tweet backfired when said burger was identified as coming from posh nosh joint Byron.

 

Politics2 10 Epic Failed Political Photo Ops

 

 

Oh, hello! Talking of burgers…

 

 10 Epic Failed Political Photo Ops

 

 

Hey presto – instant ridicule. What a Gummer.

But frankfurters are even more risky. Republican Presidential nominee Michele Bachmann has been dubbed Palin 2.0 thanks to her numerous factual and logical gaffes. On this occasion, however, she was guilty of nothing more than innocent naivety, and chomped on a corn dog in full view of the press without considering the consequences.

 

 

Politics4 10 Epic Failed Political Photo Ops

 

Best to stick with a beer. In Nigel Farrage’s case almost literally so, as he clings to his pint prop as tenaciously as Tony Blair clung to his ubiquitous ‘ordinary guy’ coffee mug. Asked about it, he replied: ‘I’ll tell you something. I work an 18 hour day most days and I think I’m entitled at lunchtime to a pint.’

 

 10 Epic Failed Political Photo Ops

 

William Hague famously claimed to have regularly drunk 14 pints a day as a schoolboy, and he wasn’t averse to being pictured pint-pot in hand. But his most risible moment was this fashion faux pas which was intended to make him look cool, but didn’t.

 

Politics6 10 Epic Failed Political Photo Ops

 

Even without the banana, David Miliband achieves the extraordinary feat of making his brother look normal.

 

Politics7 10 Epic Failed Political Photo Ops

 

But what the hell – normal’s overrated, right? Just ask Francois Hollande. Actually don’t ask him, as he appears to be a bit sensitive about it. In fact, two French press agencies even took the unusual step of withdrawing this unflattering portrait of the French president.

 

Politics8 10 Epic Failed Political Photo Ops

 

Ask former US Congressman Chris Lee instead. Or better still, just admire this picture of himself that he utilised in the services of his reply to a sex ad on Craigslist.

 

Politics9 10 Epic Failed Political Photo Ops

 

Of course anyone can have an off-day. But for one man, it happened to be Groundhog Day.

 

Politics10 10 Epic Failed Political Photo Ops

 

In the end, you just have to laugh along and rise above it.

 

Politics11 10 Epic Failed Political Photo Ops

Posted: 10th, March 2014 | In: Flashback, Key Posts, Photojournalism, Politicians | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Fruit of the Rhyme: 8 Songs of Fruit

Pink Floyd   Apples and Oranges Fruit of the Rhyme: 8 Songs of Fruit

 

THE problem with songs about food is that, well, they’re never really about food.  Tasty as brown sugar is, the Stones weren’t really singing about sucrose.  And when Robert Plant sings “Your custard pie, yeah, sweet and nice. When you cut it, mama, save me a slice” he’s not talking about pastries.  You might say it’s a time honored tradition for rock and pop musicians to use food as symbols of sex and drugs.

We certainly can’t go through them all, so let’s narrow it down and focus just on songs with fruit in the title.  Here’s a playlist that not only is interesting and fun, but also rich in Vitamin C.

 

1. “Apples and Oranges” by Pink Floyd

 

 

The setting is the produce section at the grocery store; however, apples and oranges are also an allusion to the differences between Syd and a girl he sees there (who, according to Syd himself, he’d been stalking for hours).

In this video, Floyd makes an appearance on American Bandstand.  Syd looks absolutely stoned out of his mind, and you can tell the cameraman takes care to avoid him as much as possible.

 

 

2. “I Am a Tangerine” by Tommy James and the Shondells

 

 

Tommy has admitted that he was hopelessly wasted when he wrote this song, and that it makes no sense whatsoever.  Don’t go reading clever allusions and metaphors into this one, folks.  When Tommy screams “Hello Banana”, he was genuinely introducing himself to a piece of fruit.

 

 

3. “Peaches’ by The Stranglers

 

 

“Peaches” is a simple song about walking up and down the beach staring at the ladies.  However, the fruit acquired a gynecological connotation by the line:

“Will you just take a look over there. Is she tryin’ to get outta that clitares?

“Clitares” being a French word for bathing suit, and I’m sure The Stranglers were well aware of how the word would get misinterpreted.  Clever bastards.

 

 

4. “Tangerine” by Led Zeppelin

 

 

Led Zep were no strangers to fruity music – let’s not forget “The Lemon Song”.  Page wrote this one during his Yardbirds days, purportedly about singer-songwriter Jackie DeShannon.  The false start at the beginning begat an interesting urban legend – that the intro was the remnant of the “the greatest song ever recorded” but the tape was destroyed, and both Plant and Page couldn’t remember how it went.  This snippet at the beginning (not in the video above) is all that remains.

It’s total bulls**t, but nonetheless it’s an urban legend that should be fostered and encouraged.  Of course, when it comes to fruit-centered urban legends, nothing will compare to the “Cranberry Sauce/I Buried Paul” conspiracy.

 

 

5. “Raspberry Beret” by Prince

 

600x600 Fruit of the Rhyme: 8 Songs of Fruit

 

Theories abound regarding the meaning of this song.  Many feel it’s just a simple story about a young nobody who becomes captivated by a woman who enters the store where he works.  Prince was under fire from Tipper Gore over his racy lyrics for “Darling Nikki”, so he wanted to tone things down a bit. But the fact that the store is owned by “Old Man Johnson” belies a dirty subtext.  After all, this is the same guy that brought you “Soft and Wet” and “Cream”.

So, what does it mean?  Some think the “raspberry beret” refers to an uncircumcised penis.  Others say it’s menstrual blood.  I say this is may be best left unanswered.

 

 

6. “Blackberry Way” by The Move

 

 

Very much in the vein of “Penny Lane”; sort of a downbeat answer to the peppy McCartney classic.  Personally, I cannot get past the “ooh-wah” bridge (at about the 1:45 mark in the video) which is lifted directly from Harry Nilsson’s “Good Old Desk”.  It’s stolen so exactly, the song is ruined for me.

 

 

7. “Cherry, Cherry” by Neil Diamond

 

 

Speaking of plagiarism, “What I Like About You” by the Romantics features a guitar riff pretty damn similar to Diamond’s “Cherry, Cherry”.  Of course, there’s always some borrowing and cross-pollination in pop music.  In fact, you could argue “Cherry, Cherry” owes some of its melody to “Dirty Water” by The Standells.

Whatever its roots, I’m inclined to agree with Rolling Stone in calling this one of the greatest three-chord songs of all time.  You’ll notice no horns or drums; that’s because this hit was actually a demo version.  Adding drums, horns and other polish detracted from the energy, so they kept the original.

 

 

8.  “Dear Delilah” by Grapefruit

 

 

I could have ended this playlist on top with “Strawberry Fields”, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” or “Blueberry Hill”.  Instead, I’ll invalidate the entire premise of this article and offer up a song without any fruit at all in its title.   The band’s name is certainly fruity enough, though.  Grapefruit was of the hallowed 60s tradition of bands naming themselves after fruit (ex. Moby Grape, The Lemon Pipers, Strawberry Alarm Clock… not to mention Apple Records).  In Grapefruit’s case, John Lennon actually named them after Yoko’s awful 1964 book.

Grapefruit’s singer is a member of the amazing Young family – the same clan that spawned AC/DC (Malcolm and Angus Young) and The Easybeats (George Young).  Grapefruit had the full support of The Beatles, but couldn’t achieve the success they no doubt expected.

You might say that everything was going peachy keen at Apple, but they wanted to be top banana, and ended up with sour grapes.

(insert sounds of crickets chirping)

Sorry.  A fruit pun was bound to happen at some point. My sincere apologies.

Posted: 10th, March 2014 | In: Flashback, Key Posts, Music | Comments (3) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Casting Call Woe: The Funniest Real Casting Calls From Casting Websites

PA 4289534 Casting Call Woe: The Funniest Real Casting Calls From Casting Websites

 

ANORAK’s new distraction is the Tumblr Casting Call Woe:

REAL CASTING CALLS FROM REAL CASTING WEBSITES BROUGHT TO BY THe EGLE-EYEDE @PRORESTING

Ready for your close up? Here goes:

 

Screen shot 2014 03 08 at 17.57.09 Casting Call Woe: The Funniest Real Casting Calls From Casting Websites Screen shot 2014 03 08 at 17.56.23 Casting Call Woe: The Funniest Real Casting Calls From Casting Websites

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Posted: 8th, March 2014 | In: Key Posts, Money | Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


15 Ways Beavis and Butt-Head Rule

PA 3829946 15 Ways Beavis and Butt Head Rule

Beavis, Butt-head and a large erection.

BEAVIS and Butt-head are two boys so stupid they once forgot how to wee, who treat dog bites by pouring sports drinks into them, and who believe it’s possible to get yourself pregnant. They’re the best. Mike Judge’s sniggering fartknockers are easily dismissed, but they rule hard. Huh huh. We said “hard”.

 

 

THEY COULD DESTROY A BAND

1980s glam-rock also-rans Winger were frequently the butt of jokes on Beavis & Butt-head – the boys’ weenie neighbour Stewart wore a Winger shirt, and they described the band as “wussies”. Apparently this all came from when Mike Judge heard that frontman Kip Winger had insisted that MTV not let Beavis and Butt-head mock his band – Judge got annoyed and made fun of them loads. Winger ended up blaming the band’s break-up on the cartoon, but it turned out he’d actually been misquoted the whole time. Sore.

 

 

THEY CHANGED THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
As well as beautiful catchphrases like “I need TP for my bunghole” and “I have seen the top of the mountain, and it is good”, Beavis and Butt-head gave the world insults like dillhole, assmunch, buttmunch, ass-goblin, asswipe, dickweed, dillweed, fartknocker, turd-burglar, pecker-butt, bunghole and chode-smoker.

 

 

 

THEIR MUSIC REVIEWS WERE SPOT-ON
On Vanilla Ice: “They’re always putting this guy down and making fun of him and saying he sucks and stuff. But you know, he really does suck, and this is one of those times where everybody’s right.”
On Radiohead: “Sometimes, if I have a boner that won’t go down, I listen to this type of music”.
On Type O Negative: “I think they’re a cross between Megadeth and my butt. I mean that as a compliment. My butt rules.”
On Scatman John: “They should have a name for this type of music.” “They already do have a name for this type of music, Beavis – it’s called crap.”

 

 

 

THEY MADE PEOPLE PROUD TO SUCK

After featuring a video by heavy metal band Grim Reaper, Judge ran into several of the members backstage at an Anthrax concert. “I thought I was gonna get my ass kicked,” says Judge, “But he said ‘I love your show. You trashed my video, but wait til you see the next one – it sucks even more’”.

 

 

THEY COULD MAKE A BAND HUGE
White Zombie were releasing their song Thunder Kiss ’65 for the third time, and not making a huge impact with it, when Beavis and Butt-head discovered it and decided it ruled. “Beavis and Butt-head thought Thunder Kiss ‘65 was cool and played it a lot” said White Zombie bassist Sean Yseult. “I hate to say we owe a lot to two cartoon characters, but we really do. That show was really cool. Everything that Beavis and Butt-head liked, I liked too so it was cool. It was kinda cool to be in company with the things they approved of.” They also championed the hell out of Gwar (who are THE BEST), and had Snoop Dogg (back when he was Snoop Doggy Dogg) on the show a bunch of times.

 

 

THEY PAVED THE WAY FOR SOUTH PARK
Until Beavis and Butt-head came along, animation for adults consisted of The Simpsons and bugger-all else. Matt Stone and Trey Parker had started making rudimentary cartoons by the time Beavis and Butt-head was broadcast, but there’s no way they’d have ended up with a prime-time slot on a mainstream channel without Judge’s show. When South Park blew up, Mike Judge got in touch with Stone and Parker to warn them that success brings a backlash with it. Parker told Playboy in 2000 “He said, ‘There’s going to be this big rise, and then everyone will hate you. You just ride it out and do your job, you’re just a show.’” He also gave them the advice “Don’t let people take advantage of you, because they’re dumb.” Judge voiced Kenny for his sole unmuffled line in the South Park movie, Bigger, Longer & Uncut.

 

 

MIKE JUDGE DID IT PROPERLY DIY
“I always wanted to do animation – I did flip books as a kid” Mike told an interviewer in 1996. “But I always thought you needed all the equipment and the money for film and all the sound equipment. I thought, maybe if I’m rich someday. Then an animation festival came to town, and I saw the cels in the lobby and realized a local guy actually did it. So I figured out ways to make films with a $300 camera. I did the lipsynch tracking with a stopwatch and a four-track cassette recorder, and did the music as one piece.”

 

 

WITHOUT THEM THERE’D BE NO OFFICE SPACE OR IDIOCRACY

After finishing Beavis and Butt-head’s first run, Judge wrote and directed box-office-flops-turned-cult-hits-on-DVD Office Space and Idiocracy (as well as Extract, which to be fair is a bit rubbish). Office Space is possibly the best movie about work ever made, while Idiocracy manages to combine really intelligent satire with a lot of people getting hit in the nuts. The dad from Everybody Hates Chris plays the future US President in it, and he’s completely amazing. He’s a wrestler who keeps grabbing his crotch.

 

 

OR THIS

This is the trailer for Judge’s new show, Silicon Valley. Does it look good? Yes, it does, it looks really really good.

 

 

THEY KNEW HOW TO TURN A CUSS INTO A GAG
When Senator Ernest Hollings, who had never watched an episode, badmouthed the show during an interview, he mispronounced it as “Buffcoat and Beaver” (which is incredibly weird, and sounds really rude, and suggests Senator Ernest Hollings has a dirty mind). This immediately became a running joke, with almost every adult that the boys encountered pronouncing their names differently (“Travis and Bob-head”, “Crevis and Bung-head” etc).

 

 

MIKE JUDGE HAD A BAD TIME
This isn’t really a thing to celebrate, but he’s not having a bad time anymore, so that’s something. When a five-year-old set fire to his family’s trailer, killing his two-year-old sister, his parents claimed he’d been influenced by Beavis and Butt-head’s obsession with fire (he hadn’t been – the family didn’t have cable TV). The ensuing controversy led to Judge being banned from having Beavis say the word “fire”, which he hated because it implied some responsibility for the incident on the part of the show. He also had a pretty rubbish deal with MTV, with one director later recalling “MTV robbed that guy, he got nothing”. When the show returned in 2011 though, Judge was in more of a position of power, and the full title of the show was Mike Judge’s Beavis And Butt-Head. Dude did good.

 

 

THEY SPAWNED DARIA AND KING OF THE HILL


Beavis and Butt-head’s monotonal classmate Daria ended up getting her own spin-off series, which was awesomely 90s and beautifully observed (plus several of the characters in it were weirdly alluring). Mike Judge also morphed Beavis and Butt-Head’s neighbour Tom Anderson into Hank Hill, lead character of King Of The Hill, which ran for thirteen seasons, won tons of awards and was ace. Judge also created The Goode Family a few years ago, about a family of politically-correct liberals, which was sort of rubbish so let’s not dwell on it.

 

 

THEIR ANIMATION SUCKED BUT RULED AND THEN RULED WHILE STILL SUCKING
The animation in the first series of Beavis and Butt-Head was properly rudimentary – it was hand-drawn, rushed, and the character models took a while to be properly solidified (a bit like the way early Simpsons episodes look like they were drawn in real-time). When the show came back in 2011 they had full HD, really lovely-looking animation, but for the bits where they were commenting on music videos, they re-used the rubbish old animation. Christ knows why, but hey, recycling’s a positive thing, right? The poor animation was also a source of inspiration to Matt Stone and Trey Parker, who applied the same DIY aesthetic to their cut-out construction-paper films.

 

 

MIKE JUDGE IS A LOVELY DUDE
PA 11249128 15 Ways Beavis and Butt Head Rule
A lot of people that work in telly are vicious sods, but Mike Judge seems to not have a bad word to say about anyone. Describing Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s Team America script, he said “I’ve never laughed out loud as much reading anything”, he’s described Family Guy as “great”, Simpsons creator Matt Groening as having “started it all”, and equates old Road Runner cartoons with the moon landing. He also put together a touring festival, The Animation Show, designed to showcase work by lesser-known artists. What a nice dude. Plus he’s friends with Johnny Knoxville, and that guy seems to have pretty good taste.

 

 

THEY CAN HELP BROKE-ASS ARTISTS BY LAUGHING AT THEM

In one episode of the 2011 season, Beavis and Butt-head comment on a video called It’s So Cold In The D by T-Baby. T-Baby is broke as hell – she’s not got a record contract or anything, and her song was just a no-budget YouTube video that people thought was funny. She got US$4,000 to let her video be used on Beavis and Butt-head, and will get another $4,000 every year that the show’s repeated. She told TMZ “People have been making fun of me my whole life, so Beavis and Butt-head laughing at me is no big deal – I’m laughin’ all the way to the bank. It’s been the biggest kickoff to my career.”

Posted: 7th, March 2014 | In: Flashback, Key Posts, TV & Radio | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


11 Gastro Abominations From The Mid 20th Century

THE mid-century palette was vastly different than it is today. Much of what we find advertised in vintage cookbooks and magazines seems nauseating by today’s standards.  I’m sure the same will be true of our current tastes when viewed fifty years from now. This gastronomic sea change certainly makes for an interesting browse through recipes and food adverts from yesteryear. Here are a few exceptionally foul examples.

 

MEALS IN A MOLD

 

gastroabomination 11 Gastro Abominations From The Mid 20th Century

As a general rule of thumb, I prefer my meats not to be suspended in a freakish mold of gelatin and psuedo-mayonnaise. But I’m funny that way. However, I will say the pimiento used for the fish eye is a stroke of brilliance.

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Posted: 7th, March 2014 | In: Flashback, Key Posts, The Consumer | Comments (3) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


The Greatest Rock Biopics: From Hendrix to Guthrie

PA 17990950 The Greatest Rock Biopics: From Hendrix to Guthrie

 

BIOPICS are problematic at the best of times, but get it right and you can cement a person’s place in history forever. Especially tricky are rock biopics because, half the time, the person or people they celebrate, are still alive. Or at least, they were around not that long and you can remember if they were horrible or not.

However, some rock films are better than the actual careers of the artist they pay tribute to.

Have you seen The Doors film? That’s a daft romp through 60s fluff and nonsense with some hilarious mystical sequences and leather trousers. 10,000% better than actually having to sit down and listen to anything The Doors ever committed to record. We can whip the horses eyes? C’mon! You’d much rather see one of Meg Ryan’s boobs and laugh at Billy Idol in a hippie wig!

With a biopic of Jimi Hendrix due to drop any minute now, played by Andre 3000 from Outkast, it seems like a perfect time to look at some of the finer performances in the oeuvre.

 

Jimi Hendrix

Let us start with the newest and most exciting biopic in a while. ‘All is By My Side’ features Andre Benjamin as the late Hendrix. We knew he was a man who could pull off Hendrix’s wild attire, but the footage doing the rounds shows that Benjamin is more than adept at doing an impression of Jimi. Have a look.

 

 

 

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Posted: 6th, March 2014 | In: Film, Key Posts, TV & Radio | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


May 25 1951: The Story Of The Day Traitors Burgess and Maclean Left Town

PA 1890422 May 25 1951: The Story Of The Day Traitors Burgess and Maclean Left Town

Composite of library files of the famous intelligence ‘whistle blowers’ (top from left) Harold “Kim” Philby, Peter Wright, Guy Burgess (bottom from left) Sarah Tisdall, Clive Ponting and Donald Maclean. British intelligence officer Katharine Gun has had a charge under the Official Secrets Act dropped at the Old Bailey, London, after the prosecution said it would offer no evidence against her. Miss Gun, 29, from Gloucestershire, had been accused of leaking a memo on an alleged American ‘dirty tricks’ campaign. She was charged under the Official Secrets Act of 1989, accused of disclosing security and intelligence information.

 

GUY Burgess woke at around 9.30 on the morning of Friday, 25 May 1951 in his untidy, musty-smelling bedroom. Next to his bed was an overflowing ashtray and lying on the floor was a half-read Jane Austen novel. Since his return from Washington DC three weeks previously, where he had been second secretary at the British embassy, he had been rising relatively late.

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Posted: 6th, March 2014 | In: Flashback, Key Posts | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Three Chick Discs: Disco Era Threesomes For Your Listening Pleasures

IN the disco era there began a phenomenon of immense historical insignificance: the emergence of all female musical trios.  Sure, there had been The Supremes, and there were various disco/soul trios that genuinely kicked ass (etc. The Three Degrees, Labelle), but these bands were different.  This new breed was basically talentless, and exuded an overt sexuality (i.e. they couldn’t sing, but at least they were hot).  Every song in their entire catalog (with 0.00 exceptions) was about sex, and every performance and music video operated unflinchingly to the “sex sells” approach.

The trend extended into the 1980s, paving the way for groups like Destiny’s Child (who were less one-dimensional).  Largely forgotten in the annals of pop history, all that remains are the vinyl relics which I hereby dub “Three Chick Discs”.  Here are a few examples

 

“Make Love Whenever You Can” by Arabesque

 

arabesque Three Chick Discs: Disco Era Threesomes For Your Listening Pleasures

 

Make love: Do it today, don’t wait until tomorrow
Make love: The only way to wipe away your sorrow, love

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Posted: 6th, March 2014 | In: Flashback, Key Posts, Music | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


The World in My Window: A Select Filmography of the Space Shuttle

 

shuttlespacecamp2 300x165 The World in My Window: A Select Filmography of the Space Shuttle

 

ALTHOUGH Alfonso Cuaron’s blockbuster film Gravity (2013) earned a whopping seven Academy Awards last Sunday night, one crucial supporting player didn’t pick up the Honorary Oscar it so clearly deserved: NASA’s space shuttle.

For thirty-five years now, this durable “space truck” — known officially as the “Space Transportation System” — has appeared in many space movies of the contemporary or realistic variety.

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Posted: 6th, March 2014 | In: Film, Flashback, Key Posts | Comments (3) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


In Praise Of Cartoon Music!

cartoon music In Praise Of Cartoon Music!

 

THERE are a lot of people who will go on and on and on about the amazing theme songs of ’80s and ’90s cartoons. While they have a point (who can resist the Willie Fogg theme or indeed, M.A.S.K. and Thundercats?), they pale in comparison to those cartoons brave enough to get a full orchestra on the go.

From the birth of music and animations, right up to the ’60s, studios – notably those brilliant people at Warner Brothers and Disney – created some of the most brain-popping and often side-splitting moments of music ever committed to a TV or cinema screen.

While Disney were the kings of the big, soaraway song or killer ditty, Looney Tunes were the undisputed champs of chaotic, inventive and playful classical and jazz.

Between them, both camps created so much iconic music that it defies belief. However, much of it is sorely, sorely undervalued. So here, let us praise the dazzling and daft songs that will forever light up your life.

 

Looney Tune

Let us begin with the beginning. From the opening bottlenecked guitar to the galloping brass, the opening credits of any Merry Melody or Looney Tunes cartoon, this piece of music is immediate sunshine. Vitamins for your soul. Let’s not forget Mel Blanc’s contribution with his machine gun, rat-a-tat Porky Pig stutter of “that’s all folks!” for the outro music too.

 

 

 

The Wonderful Fotoplayer

As chaotic as the music itself is the instruments invented to keep up with old animations. Watch one of these brilliantly bizarre contraptions being played and imagine the scene it dictates.

 

 

For the nerds among you, here’s a breakdown of the Fotoplayer. Yes. We all want one now.

 

 

 

Proms

It is easy to ignore the complexity and deftness of the music behind a cartoon, because you’re too busy laughing at someone’s teeth shattering in the mouth after they’ve been hit full in the face with a frying pan, or you’re rolling around laughing an anvil turning someone’s body into a concertina. However, at the 2013 Proms, everyone got to see how furiously busy the musicians had to be to keep up with the score. Better yet, as this video shows, the much forgotten percussion section really gets to shine. Observe as they throw plated into a bin and chase each other off-stage. Absolutely incredible.

 

 

 

Bugs conducting

We all know that classic music is an absolute drag for the most part. However, Looney Tunes can make anything funny. Often, they would take a tedious opera and turn it inside out. Here, Bugs Bunny conducts and, wonderfully, all hell breaks loose.

 

 

 

Powerhouse

Raymond Scott was a composer and experimental electronic music pioneer and his work ‘Powerhouse’ was a favourite of the animated short. You can read up on Scott’s genius here. Or, if you prefer, you can watch the video below, which shows off the use of the iconic ‘Powerhouse’, which you inevitably didn’t know the name of until now. You can here the music on its own, here.

 

 

 

Cat Concerto

No-one can write about music in cartoons without including the outstanding Cat Concerto featuring Tom & Jerry. Watch Tom play the right notes below.

 

 

 

Sherman Brothers

The Sherman Brothers aren’t household names, but their tunes are. They wrote a fantastic amount of songs that we could all sing. Working for Disney, they wrote ‘A Spoonful Of Sugar’, the music from Bedknobs and Broomsticks’, ‘Lets Go Fly A Kite’, the Winnie The Pooh song and, the incredibly memorable ‘I Wanna Be Like You’. And more.

 

 

 

The Simpsons

More recently, Danny Elfman’s theme for The Simpsons recalls those glorious golden days of animation. He got a full orchestra and created something grand, silly and complex and filled it with witty asides (the car horn and such), giving us perhaps the most memorable theme tune of a generation. Just perfect.

 

 

 

Think Pink

There are few shows that are as entwined with music, more than the Pink Panther. One look at the title character and your entire brain is flooded with Henry Mancini’s hip jazz. As the Pink Panther didn’t talk (well, he did, but the less said about that the better), the music became his language. The way he put a skip in his walk. The way he tried to style out calamitous accidents. The way he came out of that spin dryer looking like candyfloss. Everything is ticked with the beat of  some of the most perfect music any TV show could hope for.

 

Feel free to add your own favourites in the comments. Everyone loves cartoon music!

Posted: 5th, March 2014 | In: Key Posts, TV & Radio | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Listen To All Parts Of Robert Ashley’s Perfect Lives – The Televised American Opera

ROBERT Ashley (1930-2014). The composer was 83.

 

robert ashley Listen To All Parts Of Robert Ashleys Perfect Lives   The Televised American Opera

 

 

Kyle Gann, who recently wrote a biography said of the Michigan-born composer, who in 1958 created the Cooperative Studio for Electronic Music , a pointer to his eperiments with audio synthesis.

“Bob was one of the most amazing composers of the 20th century, and the greatest genius of 20th-century opera. I don’t know how long it’s going to take the world to recognize that.”

Thanks to the internet, the past never goes away. You can hear some of Ashley’s work in full.

 

 

In 1997, he spoke to Furious:

PSF: How did you decide to make your works as all being operas?

In 1975, there were no operas in America. I was interested in opera and it seemed to me that the only possible theatre for contemporary opera would be television. So I started working towards a kind of television kind of opera. I started designed the work so that it would be usable on television. I think it’s still true.

PSF: How did you see television as an ideal medium for operas?

It’s contemporary. It’s new. Many more people watch television than go to opera houses. There aren’t any opera houses in the United States. The possibilities for contemporary opera are very small. I thought when I started, it looked more promising (to work with television). Now, in the last few years, television has become much more conversative. But I still think there’s going to be a marriage of television and some form of opera. It might not happen in my lifetime but I still think it’s inevitable. The whole idea of the opera house is so dated anyway. It’s such a nineteenth century idea. Because of that probably, there aren’t any to speak of (maybe 3 or 4). It doesn’t really allow the idea of opera to really grow. I thought if I could get television interested in opera, it would make a kind of new thing that would allow composers to build a whole new repertoire.

It was more promising fifteen or twenty years ago than it is now. The first opera I did, Music With Its Roots in Ether (1976), has been broadcasted a lot. The next one I did, Perfect Lives (1980), was produced by Channel 4 in Great Britian and was shown there for two years and then throughout Europe but only parts of it have been broadcast in the United States. Now in ’97, television is so conserative that it doesn’t look promising. But I think it’ll change back. I think it’ inevitable that there has to be some new genre in television. Television goes through these periods of incorporating new things. First there was live comedy then there were soap operas then there was news and now there’s a lot of television about sports. We went through a period of MTV with pop music videos too. Television always needs new materials and it’s just a matter of time until there’s the right audience for new work that’s not just pop music. When that happens, it’ll be a very good time for composers to do serious big, narrative pieces.

PSF: Why do think there has been resistance to this kind of idea in American television?

Because they’re stupid I guess. Opera on television in Europe is very important. If you think about it in the broadest sense: a lot of the dramas made in India with music are practically operas. They’re not sung but they have a very big appeal. I don’t know why American television people are so stupid but at the moment, they just seem to have some sort of a block. They just do what they do and they do it for a certain number of years. Then it wears out and they try something else. It’s just a matter of time I think.

 

 

Brian Robison, of Cornell University, has posted on YouTube 4 American Composers, directed by Peter Greenaway in New York in 1985.

Compared to Meredith Monk and Robert Ashley, John Cage and Philip Glass are household names, yet their relative fame frequently turns on the persistence of misconceptions. All too often, even scholars who might be expected to know better portray Cage as either charlatan or nihilist. Critics in the 1980s tagged Glass’s music as “classical music for people who don’t like classical music,” suggesting his shrewd exploitation of the yuppie market. Director Peter Greenaway and producer Revel Guest weave representative musical excerpts with interviews to present the personalities more accurately, and, in so doing, establishes a broader context for listening. Perhaps the most striking revelation of these documentaries is that such notorious iconoclasts are so soft-spoken in person (compared to the shy, halting Ashley, the loquacious Monk seems downright assertive).

 

 

Ashley’s TV opera Perfect Lives was reviewed by Frieze:

As living and breathing musicology in practice, Perfect Lives explores how story­telling creates music and – tangentially – how American social models grew in tandem with musical forms from Europe and Africa. Built into the very structures of how it was written and is performed – there is no definitive score, only the libretto, some diacritic and harmonic indications, and a set of intricate time signatures to follow – Perfect Lives is about the sociability of music. Ashley realized Perfect Lives over a period of years with a number of close collaborators. (‘I only work with geniuses,’ he says. ‘In the end it pays off.’5) In a documentary made by Peter Greenaway in 1983, as part of his ‘Four American Composers’ series, Ashley said he wanted to ‘allow the performers to make musical statements as unpremeditated as speech itself’.

 

Perfect Lives4 Listen To All Parts Of Robert Ashleys Perfect Lives   The Televised American Opera

 

 

Ashley spoke with Alex Waterman:

What distinguishes traditional opera from any other form of narrative—like religious dramas, for example—is that most operas have a political landscape. This is especially true in Italian and German opera. You get a version of a landscape that has political meaning. I thought about that when contemplating the architecture of the opera house and how it makes those landscapes possible. Of course, that architecture is not available to me, nor would I want it to be. But the landscape has to be there however the opera is presented.

In the best of circumstances, the architecture and the music–for the people—match. But what’s happened in the last 50 to 100 years is that the music has outgrown the architecture. The instruments are old, the ideas are old—everything’s so old; it’s boring, you know? There is no architecture to deal with what we’re talking about here. I thought, There’s got to be one. And it occurred to me that our architecture might be the imaginary space behind the surface of the television screen. In other words, when you watch TV, you see whatever you see, but behind that there’s an imaginary space and maybe that’s the place for the music of our time.

It’s interesting how you can manipulate landscapes with television so that they have meaning. It’s different from having a person singing here, in my living room, which is something of a landscape. If you go outside of the personality of this room, the landscape is all of a sudden dramatically political—it’s a visual demonstration of how things work for everybody. That’s what opera is about. You’re trying to put the story in an appropriate place so that when you see it you say, Oh, that’s what the story is about!…

The landscape in Perfect Lives starts as big as possible, in The Park, and it’s described quite precisely in political terms. And then it goes to The Supermarket, which is not totally indoors. Then you get the ride through the landscape with the lovers eloping and the bank robbers driving to Indiana in The Bank episode, where you are dealing with mixed outdoors and indoors. Next, you enter the most close-range landscape, in The Bar with Rodney and Buddy talking. Then you move out again to a bigger space in The Living Room, which has more imaginary space. At the beginning of that episode, the characters talk about the Sheriff’s Wife as if she were on the South Pole and the Earth were revolving around her.

 

It is relentless. And mesmeric.

I.The Park (Privacy Rules)
II. The Supermarket (Famous People)
III. The Bank (Victimless Crime)
IV. The Bar (Differences)
V. The Living Room (The Solutions)
VI. The Church (After the Fact)
VII. The Backyard (T’Be Continued)

 

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9:00pm “The Living Room” from Varispeed Collective on Vimeo.

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5:00pm “The Church” from Varispeed Collective on Vimeo.

7. The Backyard

Posted: 5th, March 2014 | In: Key Posts, Music | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


15 Things Mad Magazine Gave The World

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MAD publisher Bill Gaines, 1970.

 

MAD Magazine is an American institution. It’s been going since 1952 and is still funny, but it’s given the world more than just gags…

 

THE FREEDOM TO TAKE THE PISS
In 1961, a group of composers including Irving Berlin (writer of White Christmas) tried to sue MAD following a series of parody songs they’d published, to be sung to the tunes of the originals. The case ended up in the Supreme Court, which ultimately ruled in MAD’s favour – they basically ruled that it was clear these songs were jokes, that they weren’t intended to be mistaken for the originals, and that they weren’t damaging. This was seen as a landmark case in terms of making parodies legit, and is still regularly cited in courts.

 

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ULTRAVIOLENCE WITH A SUBTEXT


Antonio Prohias’s Spy Vs Spy strip was a wordless ongoing saga of a black-clad spy and a white-clad spy trapping, bombing, shooting and blowing each other up in contrived-but-amazing ways using good old-fashioned big round bombs with “BOMB” written on them. As well as needless violence, though, it’s an allegory of the Cold War, the thirty-year period of general global tenseness that led to the revolution in Prohias’s native Cuba. So it’s well clever, innit, with its explosions. Prohias died in 1998, but the strip continues in airbrush-and-stencil form by Peter Kuper, still bearing the credit “By Prohias” in spy-esque Morse Code every time.

 

Justin Bieber on MAD Magazine 15 Things Mad Magazine Gave The World

 

 

A GAP-TOOTHED CHAMPION

 

The grinning, gap-toothed idiot on nearly every cover of MAD, Alfred E Neuman has become a beloved American icon despite rarely if ever showing up in the magazine itself – his appearances are limited to the cover and a quote on the contents page. On the covers, though, he’s been everyone from King Kong to Justin Bieber to Jabba The Hutt to the baby from the Nevermind album. He and his catchphrase (“What, me worry?”) have still become enormous – Jimi Hendrix introduced his Woodstock set with “What, me worry?”. Barack Obama, arguably the most powerful individual in the world, once described himself as having “the politics of [former Presidential candidate] Alfred E Smith and the ears of Alfred E Neuman”.

 

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NEW FERSCHLUGGINER WORDS
You know that impossible-to-colour-in optical illusion of a trident that might be a bident? MAD named it – it’s called a poiuyt (which is a very satisfying word to type). They also enjoyed popularising obscure German or Yiddish words, like potrzebie, veeblefetzer and furshlugginer, which became ingrained enough in American culture to recently pop up in Boardwalk Empire.

 

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FOLD-INS


One of the trademark features of any issue of MAD is Al Jaffee’s Fold-In, an image on the inside back cover that starts off as one thing and, by folding a section of the page into another, reveals a hidden message – like the one Marge’s cellmate has tattooed on her back when she goes to prison in The Simpsons. They’re ridiculously clever, and the now 91-year-old Jaffee does them with no help from Photoshop or computers at all, preferring to paint on a stiff wooden board and only seeing the folded-in image when he’s sent the magazine. Try making one. You can’t. It’s just too HARD.

 

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MARGINS BETTER THAN WHAT THEY SURROUNDED


Most magazines feature loads of dead space in the margins. At MAD they decided to make them a bit more interesting, by getting Sergio Aragones (owner of a badass moustache and known as the fastest cartoonist in the world) to doodle in them. He’s been doing this since 1963, only missing one issue when the Post Office lost his mail.

 

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Bill Gaines being understated, London, 1971.

 

 

THE BEST PUBLISHER EVER


MAD founder Bill Gaines was the son of Max Gaines, who had been instrumental in the success of Action Comics in the 1930s before setting up his own company, Educational Comics (EC). After Max’s death, Bill took over and started publishing first romance, then horror comics. These comics – including Tales From The Crypt and Weird Science – were really successful but led to the Comics Code Authority, essentially a censorship board. Gaines responded by transforming the two-year-old MAD from a comic into a magazine. When MAD became successful, Gaines became known for his eccentricities and simultaneous cheapness and generosity. Every year he would take the whole staff on an overseas trip – one year, he found out MAD had one subscriber in Haiti, whose subscription was about to run out, so he took the whole staff to visit him and persuade him to renew it. He also once paid twice the market value of really low-grade paper because he felt MAD shouldn’t be printed on nice stock. Until his death in 1992, he was greeted by staff members with a cheery “Fuck you, Bill”.

 

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A BUNCH OF SHORT-LIVED IMITATORS


A lot of pretenders to MAD’s throne stepped up over the years, of varying degrees of quality. Cracked (which survives as the genuinely excellent Cracked.com) was an unabashed poor-man’s version of it that nonetheless lasted forty years, while Crazy, Sick, Flip, Whack, Nuts (not that one), Wild, Riot, Bughouse, Eh, Unsane, Get Lost and Panic all bit the dust pretty quick.

 

 

 

THE WORST MOVIE EVER

 

After the success of the amazing 1978 film Animal House, produced in association with the magazine National Lampoon, MAD became attached to a similar college-set film called Up The Academy, starring former Bond girl (and later wife of Ringo Starr) Barbara Bach. It was by all accounts a complete dog-egg, leading MAD to disown it, and Bill Gaines to pay $30,000 to remove MAD’s name from it and offer handwritten apologies and refunds to anyone who’d sat through it.

 

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Mad Magazine cartoonist Sergio Aragones, left, Jack Davis and Al Jaffee, right, speak with Savannah College of Art and Design professor John Larison, second from the left, during an event hosted by SCAD and the National Cartoonists Society, Friday, Oct. 11, 2011 in Savannah, Ga.

 

 

THE USUAL GANG OF IDIOTS


Before the switch to magazine format, founding editor Harvey Kurtzman created the majority of the magazine, but after the switch, freelancers known as “the usual gang of idiots” came in and made the magazine their own. Regular readers of MAD learned to look out for certain names on features – if Dick DeBartolo had written a Mort Drucker-illustrated film spoof, you knew it was going to be good. One of their strangest but best-loved contributors was Don Martin, known for his incredibly unusual way of drawing feet and ridiculous sound effects – like Wonder Woman undoing her bra being soundtracked with “Snap ploobadoof”. Both loved and hated was Dave Berg’s The Lighter Side Of…, a long-running, severely inoffensive feature which featured probably the worst-dressed characters ever drawn.

 

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Cover by Drew Struzan.

 

 

BIG, BIG ART NAMES


As well as influencing a ton of big names (there’d be no Daniel Clowes without MAD, Robert Crumb cites it as a huge influence, and Alan Moore has claimed that MAD’s Superduperman spoof was a direct influence on Watchmen) some properly big deals have passed through the doors of MAD. Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Art Spiegelman, of Maus fame, was a regular contributor, Drew Struzan and Frank Frazetta both did covers, and one issue a few years ago contained contributions from no less than ten Pulitzer-winning cartoonists. Plus “Weird Al” Yankovic once wrote for them.

 

 

A BETTER VIZ


Viz editor Graham Dury, creator of the Fat Slags, tells us “MAD magazine had a massive influence on me when I was little. The two blokes on earth I would most like to get stuck in a lift with are Don Martin and Sergio Aragones, so long as they had a big stack of paper and some pens with them. I loved the way everybody Martin drew had that fantastic self-confident strut and shoes that flopped over at the end. And Aragones’s scribblings were probably the best bit of the magazine. They showed that the editors really cared about it and wanted to just pack it with stuff. But I doubt I’ll end up in a lift with either of them. Well certainly not Don Martin anyway, as he’s dead. If any of your readers see Sergio Aragones getting into a dodgy looking lift, could they let me know?”

 

SUPER-CHUFFED CELEBS


Much in the same way that Nirvana only really felt like they’d made it when they got a call from “Weird Al” Yankovic, being spoofed in MAD is kind of like a badge of honour. MAD’s letters page regularly features notes from celebrities proudly holding up magazines taking the piss out of them. When asked about big moments in his career, Slash from Guns N’Roses said “The magazine cover that has meant the most to me was probably when I appeared in MAD magazine, as a caricature of Alfred E. Neuman. That was when I felt I’d arrived.”

 

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AMERICA IN A NUTSHELL


If there was an alien race out there that had only ever been exposed to MAD, they’d have a pretty decent grasp of modern American history. You can trace wars, leaders, politics and technology through it, as well as the history of entertainment, from issue #4’s Superduperman to last issue’s Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus cover. MAD’s first cover after 9/11 nearly didn’t happen – the initial cover story was on the New York Marathon, and showed corpse-laden NY streets. They wisely decided to pull it, and replaced it with an image that was simultaneously funny, respectful, patriotic and… excuse us, there must be dust in here.

 

HEALTHY CYNICISM


Comics in the 50s didn’t encourage people to question anything – everything was more about being pleasant and not rocking the boat. MAD came along and started picking holes in the American Dream, suggesting the products Americans were buying were crap, their leaders were clueless and that the people were being treated like dicks. These days everyone’s a cynical bastard, but MAD invented it.

Posted: 5th, March 2014 | In: Books, Key Posts, News | Comments (2) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


The Top 15 Scariest Dolls of Cinema and Television

THERE is just something inherently creepy about a doll coming to life. I think it falls into the same category as clowns, kids and the elderly.  Because they are supposed to be so benign or innocent, it becomes all the more warped and vulgar when they take a bloodthirsty bent.

The devil doll trope didn’t start with Chucky. In fact, you could go back centuries via fairy tales and the golem mythology. In terms of cinema, you could start with The Devil Doll (1936) or Dead of Night (1946). However, we’ll concentrate on films from the 1970s and adjacent decades.

So, here are the top demonic doll movie moments from  the 1960s through the 80s. If there’s any egregious omissions, please fill me in, and let’s make this list grow!

 

15. CHILD’S PLAY (1988)

 

devil dolls 7 The Top 15 Scariest Dolls of Cinema and Television

Woefully cheesy, this film just doesn’t do anything for me. However, I recognize it’s earned its place on the list of evil dolls, so here’s Chucky. Moving right along….

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: 5th, March 2014 | In: Film, Flashback, Key Posts, TV & Radio | Comments (7) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0