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Listen To Aldous Huxley’s Talks On The Visionary Experience’ And Read His Advice To Albert Hofmann On Taking LSD
ON February 29 1962, Aldous Huxley wrote of psychedelic drugs in a letter to Albert Hofmann.
Hofmann had invented LSD, first synthesising lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in 1938. He experienced the world’s first acid trip” on April 19 1943 as he cycled home from his Swiss laboratory. That was Bicycle Day.
He tells of his discovery in the book LSD, My Problem Child (1979):
Time and again I hear or read that LSD was discovered by accident. This is only partly true. LSD came into being within a systematic research program, and the “accident” did not occur until much later: when LSD was already five years old, I happened to experience its unforeseeable effects in my own body—or rather, in my own mind
Looking back over my professional career to trace the influential events and decisions that eventually steered my work toward the synthesis of LSD, I realize that the most decisive step was my choice of employment upon completion of my chemistry studies. If that decision had been different, then this substance, which has become known the world over, might never have been created.
Hofmann took a measure of the drug and made his way home:
“On the way home, my condition began to assume threatening forms. Everything in my field of vision wavered and was distorted as if seen in a curved mirror. I also had the sensation of being unable to move from the spot. Nevertheless, my assistant later told me that we had travelled very rapidly.”
Did the drug have a use? Could LSD have a medicinal purpose? Maybe.
Even after LSD was banned in 1966, Hofmann maintained his belief that it had the power to solve psychological problems induced by “materialism, alienation from nature through industrialisation and increasing urbanisation, lack of satisfaction in professional employment in a mechanised, lifeless working world, ennui and purposelessness in wealthy, saturated society, and lack of a religious, nurturing, and meaningful philosophical foundation of life”.
He spoke with Huxley, who had in the 1950s written The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell, books dealing with states of mind and body produced by hallucinogenic drugs. Hofmann was impressed, writing:
The alterations of sensory perceptions and consciousness, which the author experienced in a self-experiment with mescaline, are skillfully described in these books. The mescaline experiment was a visionary experience for Huxley. He saw objects in a new light; they disclosed their inherent, deep, timeless existence, which remains hidden from everyday sight
These two books contained fundamental observations on the essence of visionary experience and about the significance of this manner of comprehending the world—in cultural history, in the creation of myths, in the origin of religions, and in the creative process out of which works of art arise. Huxley saw the value of hallucinogenic drugs in that they give people who lack the gift of spontaneous visionary perception belonging to mystics, saints, and great artists, the potential to experience this extraordinary state of consciousness, and thereby to attain insight into the spiritual world of these great creators. Hallucinogens could lead to a deepened understanding of religious and mystical content, and to a new and fresh experience of the great works of art. For Huxley these drugs were keys capable of opening new doors of perception; chemical keys, in addition to other proven but laborious ” door openers” to the visionary world like meditation, isolation, and fasting, or like certain yoga practices…
In The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell, Huxley’s newly-published works, I found a meaningful exposition of the experience induced by hallucinogenic drugs, and I thereby gained a deepened insight into my own LSD experiments.
Huxley called. They would meet in Zurich:
He considered experiments under laboratory conditions to be insignificant, since in the extraordinarily intensified susceptibility and sensitivity to external impressions, the surroundings are of decisive importance. He recommended to my wife, when we spoke of her native place in the mountains, that she take LSD in an alpine meadow and then look into the blue cup of a gentian flower, to behold the wonder of creation.
As we parted, Aldous Huxley gave me, as a remembrance of this meeting, a tape recording of his lecture “Visionary Experience,” which he had delivered the week before at an international congress on applied psychology in Copenhagen. In this lecture, Aldous Huxley spoke about the meaning and essence of visionary experience and compared this type of world view to the verbal and intellectual comprehension of reality as its essential complement.
You can hear Visionary Experience here:
In one letter Huxley wrote to Hofmann:
. . . I have good hopes that this and similar work will result in the development of a real Natural History of visionary experience, in all its variations, determined by differences of physique, temperament and profession, and at the same time of a technique of Applied Mysticism—a technique for helping individuals to get the most out of their transcendental experience and to make use of the insights from the “Other World” in the affairs of “This World.” Meister Eckhart wrote that “what is taken in by contemplation must be given out in love.” Essentially this is what must be developed—the art of giving out in love and intelligence what is taken in from vision and the experience of self-transcendence and solidarity with the Universe….
You don’t have to endorse the use of drugs to see that they can be useful to some people.
12 Ways 2000AD Is Zarjaz
IT GAVE THE WORLD JUDGE BLEEDIN’ DREDD
Arguably better known than the comic itself is its main star, leather- suited, permanently-behelmeted Judge Dredd, tough-ass humorless moo and saviour of the streets of Mega-City One. His catchphrase (“I am the law”) and iconography are huge, and impressively, his story has happened in ‘real time’ – it’s been permanently 122 years ahead of the Earth year, so he and his supporting cast have aged appropriately. Sort of. “It’s a debatable point exactly how old he is now, but he’s in his 60s at least,” says editor Matt Smith. “Where it becomes a grey area is that Mega-City One has face-change and rejuve facilities, so you never know, he may have had a bit of help. He’s certainly as sprightly as he ever was”.
…AND THE REST
While Judge Dredd remains the best-known character, a lot of 2000AD’s other stories have become firm fan favourites…
SLÅINE: A Celtic barbarian who battles everyone from demons to aliens to real-life historical figures, Sláine is like a multi- weaponed Irish Conan.
STRONTIUM DOG: The story of Johnny Alpha, a mutant bounty hunter in a post-apocalyptic world (yeah, fun). He was killed off in the 80s but he’s back now.
NEMESIS THE WARLOCK: Created by the fiercely left-wing Pat Mills, Nemesis is a fire-breathing demonic alien anti-hero who does battle with the KKK-looking Torquemada.
ZOMBO: A newer creation, Zombo debuted in 2008 and is a human-zombie hybrid, top- secret government project and wannabe pop star all in one.
ROGUE TROOPER: A blue-skinned genetically- engineered soldier on a war-torn future planet, co-created by Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons. He’s potentially set to become a movie star, with Sam Worthington from Avatar set to play him.
DREDD BEAT HOLLYWOOD
The 1995 Sylvester Stallone Judge Dredd movie is appalling – he barely wears the helmet, he gets off with Judge Hershey (which in the comic he’s totally not allowed to do) and Rob Schneider keeps showing up being all Rob Schneidery. Howevs, 2012′s Dredd, directed by Pete Travis, written by Alex Garland and starring Karl Urban, is awesome, and despite non-amazing box office takings, there might be a sequel because fans just dug it so much.
IT LONG OUTLASTED ITS FUTURISTIC TITLE
Something that often dates sci-fi is when real life goes past the far-off date it’s set in (even in Terminator 2, Judgment Day was in 1997). When the comic started in February 1977, the year 2000 seemed impossibly futuristic, but it’s ended up going on long past that date without changing anything, delivering a two-fingered salute to the passage of time. In your face, temporal causality. “I queried it at the time” says writer Pat Mills. “I said, ‘What happens when we reach the millennium?’ The publisher didn’t think we would, but I knew we would.”
IT’S PRETTY MUCH PUNK
“On the surface, we were aiming to sell a lot of copies” says Mills. “This meant not appealing to fanboys who would have been into Gerry Anderson or Marvel or Warrior, but to mainstream readers, who are usually the last people comic buffs think about. But beneath the surface, we aimed to subvert. We weren’t punks, but that’s a quick way of saying it.” Mills’s strip Nemesis The Warlock essentially had the Devil as the hero, battling the fascistic efforts of the vaguely Pope-like Torquemada.
IT’S EDITED BY AN ALIEN
2000AD has always been fronted by Tharg The Mighty, a green-skinned alien from Betelgeuse who refers to humans as “Earthlets” and speaks in a dementedly wordy manner. “It seems slightly anachronistic now to have a green alien as the face of 2000AD, but I think the readers would be up in arms if we got rid of him,” says editor Matt Smith. “He’s good fun to hide behind – if any readers ask awkward questions you can just have Tharg come out with spiel about how everything’s going to plan.” Tharg also starred in his own series of photo-stories back in the day, which haven’ really aged incredibly well (they starred a dude in a pretty bad suit).
IT MADE THE WORLD SCROTNIG
Tharg introduced a lot of his own ridiculous slang, including “Zarjaz” (meaning excellent), “Grexnix” (an idiot), “Scrotnig” (also excellent), “Nonscrot” (a non-reader of 2000AD) and “Splundig vur thrigg” (goodbye). Yeah, why not, right?
IT’S BRITISH, GOD DAMN IT
The comics industry is almost totally dominated by U.S. companies – DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, IDW… But 2000AD is part of Rebellion, a British company run by two brothers who grew up reading it. While talent tends to end up where the money is on the other side of the Atlantic, 2000AD’s open submissions policy (which very few U.S companies have) means it’s still the first place most up-and-comers get published.
IT INVENTED FUTURE SHOCKS
One of 2000AD’s acest features is the Future Shocks – self-contained one-off stories that usually end on a mind-twatting twist. They’re like the most economical pieces of storytelling ever, like mini episodes of The Twilight Zone. Mega-bearded comics supremo Alan Moore (creator of Watchmen and V For Vendetta) did 50 or so, and basically, if you name a big-shot British comics creator, that dude started off doing Future Shocks. Grant Morrison (The Filth), Mark Millar (Kick-Ass), Garth Ennis (Preacher,) and Neil Gaiman (Sandman) have all done them, and those bastards are RIIIICH.
EVERYONE WHO’S ANYONE’S WORKED WITH THEM
The world of comics would be a much more barren place without the writers and artists that have come through 2000AD’s pages. As well as everyone already named, there’s Alan Davis (X-Men), Alan Grant (Batman), Simon Bisley (Lobo), Peter Milligan (Unwritten), Steve Dillon (Preacher), Andy Diggle (The Losers), Kevin O’Neill (League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen), Rufus Dayglo (Tank Girl)… tons of ’em. “Going to seek work in America, having worked for 2000AD is seen as something of an academy to have earned your chops at,” says Matt Smith.
SHAUN AND TIM DIG IT
When Shaun Of The Dead came out in 2004, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright filled in some of the backstory with There’s Something About Mary, a strip in 2000AD, co-written by Wright’s brother Oscar and illustrated by Frazer Irving. Pegg’s character in Spaced was named after 2000AD artist Simon Bisley, and was said to have cried when Johnny Alpha died in the comic.
IT MADE THOUSANDS CRY
The Ballad Of Halo Jones, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Ian Gibson, is one of the high points of 2000AD’s history. It’s a sweeping, epic tale that goes from farcical comedy to being absolutely heartbreaking. If you’re at all skeptical about comics, pick up the collected edition, it’s brilliant and you’ll sob like a tiny baby at the end.
IN 1985, Tipper Gore’s Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) released their “Filthy 15” – fifteen songs they felt were the most objectionable on the planet. Prince’s “Darling Nicki” topped the list, Sheena Easton’s “Sugar Walls” came in at #2, and Cyndi Lauper’s “She-Bop” rounded out the list at #15.
Not surprisingly, the PMRC only managed to increase sales for all 15 songs, and made the US government look even more like an overbearing nanny state. Far from holding back the tide of explicit music, you might say the dam burst not long after. Indeed, the songs on Tipper’s Filthy 15 look quaint by today’s standards.
Well, it’s been almost twenty years, so I think we’re due for another Filthy 15, don’t you? It would be much too easy to draw from contemporary music (Where does one even begin?). So, rather than shoot fish in a barrel, let’s look at the 1960s-80s, when artists couldn’t be so direct– when they had to lay it between the lines. These aren’t necessarily the raunchiest, just some great moments in filthy songwriting. Please feel free to add your own – if a Filthy 15 is good, a Filthy 50 is even better!
15. “Penny Lane” by The Beatles (1967)
“A four of fish and finger pies”
For shame, McCartney, for shame! Most listeners interpreted this as a charming recount or memories at “the shelter in the middle of the roundabout”; not realizing a “finger pie” isn’t something from a dinner menu. I’ll leave it to you to extrapolate this one.
14. “Love Gun” by Kiss (1977)
“You pull the trigger of my love gun”
It’s painfully simple and obvious, but what makes it special is that it was such a popular song among the grade-school set. There’s something very, very special about millions of 1970s pre-teens singing along to a song about Paul Stanley’s penis.
13. “House of Fun” by Madness
“Sixteen today, and up for fun.
I’m a big boy now, or so they say.
So if you’ll serve, I’ll be on my way.”
I’ll admit, I’ve heard this song a thousand times, but never made the obvious connection to what it’s all about. Like Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax”, you get so caught up in the hopping beat, you don’t stop to think about the meaning of the words. While Frankie’s song is about graphic sexual advice, this one is much more innocent:
“To this day I can barely mention the title onstage without wanting to throw up. It’s about the embarrassment of going to a chemist’s shop to buy a condom for the first time.”
- The Daily Mirror, September 18, 2009
12. “Pearl Necklace” by ZZ Top
She was really bombed, and I was really blown away,
Until I asked her what she wanted, and this is what she had to say:
A pearl necklace.
Maybe not the most romantic song ever written, but what do you expect from the boys who brought you “Tube Snake Boogie”? And if I have to tell you what a pearl necklace is, it’s probably past your bedtime.
11. “Like a Virgin” by Madonna (1984)
“Like a virgin, Touched for the very first time”
According to Mr. Brown in Reservoir Dogs (1992), this song has a very explicit connotation (too explicit to recite here, in fact). Suffice it to say, the theory is that the singer has seen her share of action and can no longer be stimulated… that is, until she meets a “John Holmes” whose girth makes her feel like a virgin all over again.
10. “My Sharona” by The Knack
Never gonna stop, give it up, such a dirty mind
I always get it up, for the touch of the younger kind
Fieger (the lead singer) wrote this about a girl he’d just met at a clothing store, Sharona Alperin. She was only 17 (8 years younger than him) and had a boyfriend, but no matter. The man was obsessed, and it shows through in the manic vocals.
9. “Little Red Corvette” by Prince
I guess I must be dumb
‘Cause you had a pocket full of horses
Trojan and some of them used
There’s a fine line between innuendo and stating it plainly. For instance does Marvin Sease’s plainly stated “I Ate You For Breakfast” (1987) qualify as innuendo? How about the ribald “Hot Nuts (Get ‘em from the Peanut Man)” by Georgia White (1931)? It’s in this erogenous zone where Prince’s music falls, with one foot in radio-friendly innuendo, and one foot in the gutter.
8. “Brand New Key” by Melanie
Well, I got a brand new pair of roller skates
You got a brand new key
I think that we should get together and try them out you see
I been looking around awhile
You got something for me
Back in ’71 there was a lot of hoopla over what this song actually meant; it even got banned on radio stations. Melanie insists it was completely innocent, but admits she can see the Freudian symbols throughout.
7. “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight” by England Dan & John Ford Coley
“I won’t ask for promises
So you won’t have to lie
We’ve both played that game before
Say I love you, then say goodbye”
I love it when soft rock gets dirty. It sounds deceptively light and radio-friendly; however, the wholesome veneer is just a disguise. This song is basically one long argument to get into a woman’s pants. Even worse, he’s promising no commitment – just one screw and then he’s outta there.
6. “Turning Japanese” by The Vapors
I’ve got your picture, I’ve got your picture….
You’ve got me turning up and turning down and turning in and turning ’round
I’m turning Japanese I think I’m turning Japanese I really think so
It’s supposedly about masturbation (the title references the face men make during “the process”); however, this may be just urban legend. Either way, it’s a schoolyard myth that’s kept going for a couple decades – a distinguished accomplishment in the annals of music history. And speaking of annals….
5. “Knocking at Your Back Door” by Deep Purple
“Feel it coming
It’s knocking at the door
You know it’s no good running
It’s not against the law”
A nice little ditty 100 percent about anal sex.
(awkward silence) So, there’s that information. Queue the next song.
4. “The Lemon Song” by Led Zeppelin
“Squeeze me baby, till the juice runs down my leg.
The way you squeeze my lemon, I’m gonna fall right out of bed.”
Zep combined a Howlin’ Wolf song called “Killing Floor” and Robert Johnson’s “Traveling Riverside Blues” to create this R rated classic. This and “Squeeze Box” by The Who were the first instances where I became aware that something dirty was going on in my record collection.
3. “More, More, More” by The Andrea True Connection
“But if you want to know how I really feel
Get the cameras rollin’
Get the action goin’”
This disco classic is made all the more illicit by the fact that Andrea True was an actual porn star.
2. “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” by Meatloaf
“I can see paradise by the dashboard light
You got to do what you can
And let Mother Nature do the rest”
The song was so over-the-top that it was initially labeled a novelty record and the studio musicians thought it was a practical joke. Indeed, the sexual innuendo is laid on thick for eight straight minutes. If this doesn’t deserve a place on this list, nothing does.
1. “Afternoon Delight” by The Starland Vocal Band
Thinkin’ of you’s workin’ up my appetite
Looking forward to a little afternoon delight
Rubbin’ sticks and stones together makes the sparks ingite
And the thought of lovin’ you is getting so exciting
What has always made this so disorienting is the benign delivery coupled with its pornographic lyrics. It’s one thing to hear Aerosmith sing about their “big ten inch”, it’s altogether another when a folksy, seemingly family-friendly band gets in on the action. We expect it from Aerosmith, but when an EZ Listening folk rock quartet dips into the gutter, it’s downright magical.
PEPPA Pig was in the news again this week, and once again the news wasn’t good. Following previous complaints about her disrespectful and naughty behaviour, there are now claims that one of the characters in her DVD used the f-word, and that this has caused a young Welsh child to use the same foul curse.
In the event, it turned out that the actual word in question was ‘rocking’, but the pronunciation left enough ambiguity to cause mischief. Judge for yourself…
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:
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!”
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.
And the winner is:
But wait a moment…
And the news that the plane is…behind you!
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:
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.
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.
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.
Was there a social program in Amsterdam which allowed the city’s homeless and insane to make records? I’m just curious.
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.
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 ).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
SO. What did X Factor winner Sam ‘ScrewBo’ Bailey do next? A Hollywood biopic? A number one album? A chair on Loose Women?
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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….
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.
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.”
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.
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.)
Origin: Adventure Comics #242 – Nov. 1957
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.
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.
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.
Oh, hello! Talking of burgers…
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.
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.’
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.
Even without the banana, David Miliband achieves the extraordinary feat of making his brother look normal.
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.
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.
Of course anyone can have an off-day. But for one man, it happened to be Groundhog Day.
In the end, you just have to laugh along and rise above it.
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
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.
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:
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.
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
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.”
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Make love: Do it today, don’t wait until tomorrow
Make love: The only way to wipe away your sorrow, love
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.