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FRENCH cinema’s intense The 400 Blows (Les Quatre cents coups – the French title comes from the idiom, faire les quatre cents coups—“to raise hell”) features a fantastic performance from Jean-Pierre Léaud as the delinquent adolescent Antoine Doinel. For anyone who has not seen this spellbinding 1959 film, here’s an outline of the story from Criterion:
François Truffaut’s first feature is also his most personal. Told through the eyes of Truffaut’s cinematic counterpart, Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), The 400 Blows sensitively re-creates the trials of Truffaut’s own childhood, unsentimentally portraying aloof parents, oppressive teachers, and petty crime. The film marked Truffaut’s passage from leading critic to trailblazing auteur of the French New Wave.
OF all the dreadful, heart-wrenching stories to come from Guantanamo Bay, the news that the CIA are using the Red Hot Chili Peppers music as a torture device is surely the worst.
Prisoners in Guantánamo Bay have been subject to all manner of woeful behaviour, but surely they’d all prefer to be water boarded than have to listen to Anthony Kiedis & Co. Just imagine being couped up, chains around your ankles, while someone plays their brand of rock-funk dreck at you.
It’s enough to make your brain shut down just so the ears and body die.
FLASHBACK to June 28, 1937 at a Los Angeles station – file under awkward kisses:
John Barrymore and Elaine Barrie have settled all their martial differences. Elaine said that the first thing she would do would be to set aside the interlocutory divorce which she obtained, after which they would go house-hunting. John Barrymore and Elaine Barrie making up their differences with a kiss at the station at Los Angeles, on June 28, 1937.
Given the look on their faces, you would be not surprised to learn that the Barrymores who married in 1936 divorced divorced 1940.
LIFE as a member of KISS must be more mental than living in a hedge filled with laughing spiders. And depressing too. More depressing than Gene Simmons blood-chilling sex tape. No, we’re not providing a link. Look for it yourself. You’ll never listen to Foreigner in the same way again.
Anyway, former KISS honcho Paul Stanley (the one with the star on his eye when done up) has released a new new memoir, ‘Face the Music: A Life Exposed,’ written with journalist Tim Mohr. Naturally, it is anecdote-central and is filled with a myriad of bold claims.
COMPARE and contrast these articles in the Times:
Nov 11, 2013:
Anorexia: not just a ‘women’s illness’
Jan 25, 2014:
How to boost your daughter’s self-esteem
…Parents can help offset the toxic environment too, says Dr Sharpe. Discuss the portrayal of women’s bodies with their daughters and maintain a commentary when looking at images in magazine, on TV or online. “It’s also vital to model good body confidence and self-esteem yourself,” she says. “It’s interesting that during our trips to schools telling children not to engage in fat-talking we would go into the staff room and hear lots of it. We all do it — even I find myself doing it sometimes.”
NOT so long ago we covered the most depressing songs ever recorded, but there’s a big difference between depressing and sappy. A depressing song can actually be quite good; the artist intends to elicit sadness and it works. “Alone Again (Naturally)” by Gilbert O’Sullivan is a fine example, as is Harry Chapin’s “Cats in the Cradle”. Things turn sappy when it becomes excessively sentimental. Maybe the lyrics are transparently gooey, or the notes are sung to exaggerate the emotion. Take, for instance, the Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt song “I Don’t Know Much”:
I don’t know much
But I know I love you
That may be
All I need…. to know, whoaohohohah
You all know this misty-eyed classic. You half expect Linda to break down into convulsive sobs at song’s end. Yet, it still doesn’t rise to the level of sap needed for a spot on this list. The reason: We can’t go calling every romantic ballad “sappy”. Just as depressing songs have their place, so do overtly romantic songs. Perhaps, the best way to illustrate sap at its worst is by example. So, here we go…
10. “All Out Of Love” by Air Supply (1980)
They may be all out of love, but there’s still plenty of cheese to go around. Indeed, Air Supply made quite a successful career smothering the early eighties in saccharine sincerity. Their tracks were perfect for couples skating at the roller rink, but that’s where their usefulness ended. To listen to an Air Supply album the whole way through is like passing through a cloud of schmaltz.
9. “Hello” by Lionel Ritchie (1984)
Lionel Ritchie (or as I like to call him, Sappy McSapperstein) left his funk roots behind when he departed from the Commodores in favor of a solo career drenched in sentimental slush. No doubt, Ritchie could craft a beautiful melody, but they are dripping with sap. It’s a shame he couldn’t add even a little unvarnished edge to his 80s schmaltzfests.
8. “Clair” by Gilbert O’Sullivan (1972)
This song is just so precious it’s impossible to criticize. It’s like a warm buttery blanket of sentimental lovey-dovey-ness. Gilbert wrote the song for his manager’s daughter, whom he babysat. How can I complain about such an innocent lullaby…. yet, it’s saccharine levels are so high, listeners are in danger of developing Type II Diabetes. You have been duly warned.
7. “Honey” by Bobby Goldsboro (1968)
There’s nothing wrong with sad songs. “At Seventeen” by Janis Ian and “Ode to Billy Joe” by Bobbie Gentry are perfect examples of songs that had sad stories to tell, but they were also meaningful and even profound on some level. In stark contrast, “Honey” has nothing to say except just how sh***y it was that his wife died.
And speaking of songs about dead wives…
6. “Wildfire” by Michael Martin Murphy (1975)
My apologies to those who hold this song dear, but this is just dreadful. “Wildfire” is 4 minutes and 47 seconds of weepy drivel. Michael Martin Murphy makes Barry Manilow seem edgy and cynical.
And if you just can’t get enough of dead spouse music, I recommend “Daisy a Day” by Judd Strunk (1973).
5. “Heartlight” by Neil Diamond (1982)
There’s been just so many sappy songs over the years, it’s difficult to cherry pick; I could have made this a Top 100 list and still not scratch the surface. “You Light Up My Life” by Debbie Boone, “Careless Whisper” by Wham, and “Send in the Clowns” by Judy Collins would all qualify. Then I remembered the saptastic “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” by Streisand and Neil Diamond, which led me to the frighteningly cheesy “Heartlight” – a song literally inspired by the movie E.T. It simply doesn’t get much sappier than this, folks.
4. “Don’t Give Up On Us” by David Soul (1976)
When Soul wasn’t starring in gritty TV crime dramas (Starsky & Hutch) or gritty cinematic crime dramas (Magnum Force), David Soul was dishing up one of the sappiest tracks ever recorded. Scientific studies have demonstrated that bees are actually attracted to the saccharine tones of this song. Indeed, chemical analysis of the 12” vinyl single of “Don’t Give Up On Us” was found to contain trace quantities of fructose. Sounds crazy, but it’s all true.
3. “There Will Be Sad Songs” by Billy Ocean (1986)
This one gets bonus points for being a sappy song about sappy songs. But, now I’m faced with a question: which decade excelled in sappiness the most? I would say the 1980s were the Golden Age of Sap. In the 1970s, soft rock flourished, but it only rarely had the sugary outer-coating that 80s artists dripped on their songs so lovingly. In other words, 70s soft rock was about getting high and introspective and taking it down a notch; whereas, 80s pop was a damn schmaltzapalooza.
2. Every Power Ballad Ever Recorded by Hair Metal Bands
I use “I Hate Kissing You Goodbye” by Tuff to illustrate, but this could just as well be any hair metal power ballad. “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison, “When the Children Cry” by White Lion, “Don’t Know What You’ve Got (Till It’s Gone)” by Cinderella, “I Remember You” by Skid Row… the list could go on forever. There was something very un-metal about these hair metal bands. Not only did they look like androgynous hookers, their music was more akin to Streisand than it was Maiden.
1. “Feelings” by Morris Albert (1975)
Is it any surprise that the Grand Poobah of sappy love songs makes an appearance on this list? “Feelings” combined the traditional cheeseball ballad with the corny flakiness of the lounge act and created a monster. Children of the Seventies well remember the horror of hearing this come on the car radio. Despite urgent pleas to turn it off, our parents would sing along instead. Oh, the humanity!
And on that note, I think the perfect ending for this list has to be “Feelings” as sung by The Bionic Woman. Enjoy.
FOUR movies strong, and spanning three decades (the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s), the cinematic Alien saga — consisting of Alien (1979), Aliens (1986), Alien 3 (1992) and Alien Resurrection (1997) — is renowned for its titular creature, one of the most terrifying silver screen boogeymen of all time.
Given the nature of this franchise’s hostile (and perfect?) monster, it’s no surprise that the death scenes featured throughout the saga are frequently terrifying, bloody, and brilliantly-orchestrated.
Yet the truly memorable death scenes possess another quality as well. They’re shocking. These scenes strike with a combination of terror, disgust, sorrow, and surprise, leaving a permanent imprint on the viewer’s mind.
For a death scene to be considered shocking, it must be one that the audience can’t see coming. In other words, we expect that Colonial Marines fighting aliens by the pack are going to die, or that confused convicts running from a monster in a dark corridor will come to a bad end.
WRITING on Peaches Geldof in the Guardian, Hadley Freeman says ‘The Geldofs were Britain’s first celebrity family”. The article is called:
‘Beyond pain’: Peaches Geldof, Paula Yates and one family’s epic suffering”
Epic suffering? We don’t know the family any more than Freeman does, but we imagine their suffering at untimely deaths of loved ones – Peaches’ mother Paula Yates, her partner Michael Hutchence (whose orphaned daughter has been raised by Bob Geldof) and now the second oldest daughter of three – though terrible for the nearest and dearest are no more epic than what many families have endured. But it’s this family’s fame that attracts the hyperbole and acres of news coverage, not the individuals.
LIFE is indeed unfair and it is entirely true that some of us lose our jobs after our looks start to fade. The latest little scare story being that we don’t have enough middle aged and older women on the tellie, telling us all how the world is in the news and the like.
To which there’s a pretty robust response. If you originally get your job because you’re pretty, somewhat toothsome on the eye, then it’s a bit odd to complain about losing said job when you’re less easy on said eyes. As Michael Buerk has been pointing out:
BBC veteran Michael Buerk says TV presenters who got their jobs through their beauty have no right to complain if they’re axed when their looks fade.
While the anchorman has expressed his satisfaction that broadcasters are now featuring more and more experienced talent, such as Great British Bake-Off presenter Mary Berry, he says many of those that complain about ageism should not have been given their roles in the first place.
He said: ‘”Presenter” in any case is a very recent job description dreamt up to provide somebody who fronts a programme without any special reason for being on it.
‘And if you got the job in the first place mainly because you look nice, I can’t see why you should keep it when you don’t.’
WHEN Franklin Youngblood saw the picture of his 85-year-old mother Bernice stuffing cash in the knickers of a young male stripper at Long Island’s East Neck Nursing home he was upset.
HERE are four albums which serve as starting points to murder stories. They range from factual to dodgy at best, but they are all interesting. The four stories include: (1) A Sonny Bono wannabe turned nurse killer, (2) an ex-stripper ventriloquist who witnesses the JFK assassination, (3) a fairy tale turned horror story, and (4) an urban legend of a screaming nude cover model that just won’t go away. Enjoy!
THE JON & ROBIN ELASTIC EVENT (1967)
Jon & Robin were your standard pop duo of the late Sixties, specializing in groovy bubblegum psychedelia. Jon’s dad owned the record label, Abnak Records; so, naturally, his son was first in line to a recording contract (big mistake). I suppose dear-old-dad wanted them to be the next Sonny & Cher, but, alas, it was not meant to be. “Do it Again a Little Bit Slower” (1967) reached #18 in the US, but proved to be their only whiff of success.
The duo split up shortly thereafter, and poor Jon tried to continue his music career resulting in one failure after another. This ultimately contributed to his mental breakdown and he was checked into Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Texas. This is where fact and fiction intermingle, but the story goes that Jon starting getting it on with a psychiatric nurse. After he was released, they moved in together and started a new chapter in Jon’s life. Unfortunately, that new chapter is entitled “The Prison Years” because Jon murdered her.
.. so, there’s that information. Onward to the next murder.
ERICK & BEVERLY MASSEGEE – AMEN! (1974)
This Beverly Massegee LP has become something of an all-star in the world of bad album covers, but the biggest oddity surrounding this album is not the strangeness of the record, but Beverly herself. Many believe she is actually the Babushka Lady – the woman who filmed JFK up close at the very moment he was assassinated!
Beverly Oliver (maiden name) was once a friend of Jack Ruby, the man who shot Lee Harvey Oswald. Beverly was a singer (and possibly a stripper) at Ruby’s Carousel Club and the adjacent Colony Club. According to her own account, Beverly claims she accompanied Jack Ruby to New Orleans where she met Mafia bosses and was introduced to Lee Harvey Oswald, a friend of Ruby’s (!).
Beverly states that she was the infamous and mysterious Babushka Lady, the closest witnesses to the fatal shot that killed President Kennedy. Further, she claims that she filmed the event, but three days later two men who identified themselves as government agents confiscated her film and never returned it. Here’s an old video of Beverly breaking it down for us…
Unfortunately, much of this is considered nonsense by JFK assassination “experts”. However, it should be noted that Beverly married a pastor and found Jesus, which means all of this must be true, right?
CLAUDINE LONGET – THE LOOK OF LOVE (1967)
Claudine’s early years read like a fairy tale. She was a Vegas showgirl working for Barbara Walters’ father. One day, her car breaks down and she’s picked up by none other than Andy Williams. Marriage, wealth, a family, a recording contract, and an acting career soon followed. It would seem. Claudine Longet had everything a woman could ever want.
The couple were even good friends with Bobby Kennedy. In fact, they were supposed to go to a disco with him the night he was killed. Senator Kennedy told Andy and Claudine that he would make a “little hand gesture” at the end of his televised primary victory speech to let them know he could make it to the disco. The couple watched Kennedy’s speech from their Bel Air home, and when the gesture was made the two hopped out of bed to get ready to head to the disco…. then they heard the shots ring out. Three days later, Andy was singing at his friend’s funeral. The couple would name their 3rd child “Bobby”.
That was 1968…. by 1970 they were legally separated. Claudine and the three kids moved in with the famous Olympic skier, “Spider” Sabich. He was handsome, talented, and had become quite a popular figure. Robert Redford even played him in a movie (Downhill Racer). But this is where the fairy tale ends. The relationship became tumultuous and in 1975, Spider was fatally shot in the abdomen by Claudine.
Claudine claimed the gun discharged accidentally, and was charged with only negligent homicide. The fact that she was high on cocaine never made it into the trial, nor was the fact that their relationship had become hostile. Subsequently, Claudine spent only 30 days in jail.
THE OHIO PLAYERS – HONEY (1975)
The 70s funk band, The Ohio Players, weren’t exactly known for their family-friendly album covers. Their most notorious is the Honey album which featured a completely naked model (visible when you fold open the cover) shown from the side on the outside cover, and in a much more explicit position in the interior. Legend goes that this girl was brutally murdered and her screams can be heard in their song “Love Rollercoaster”.
Of course, urban legend debunkers have proved this to be complete bullshit. However, it’s a lot more fun to speculate, and you never really know, do you? As to exactly how she was killed and how the screams ever got recorded depends on who’s telling the story. One thing is for certain, the scream sounds completely out of place. It’s blood curdling – not something you’d expect to hear in the background of a lively funk song. The cherry-on-top to this urban legend is that the photography for the album cover was conducted by Richard Fegley, who had also photographed Sharon Tate (insert dramatic music)
One variation of the story goes like this:
The Ohio Players spot a runaway on the street corner and use her for on their album Honey. The album cover depicts the model nude and kneeling in glass while drizzling honey all over herself. The glass was actually fiberglass, and when it mixed with the honey caused the fiberglass to be bonded to the girl’s legs. She tried tearing it off of her legs, but only succeeded in tearing the skin off. She runs into the studio where the band was recording “Love Rollercoaster”. She was screaming at them, claiming she would sue them for everything they were worth. The band’s manager then dragged her outside the studio, and murdered her. Her screaming was audible, even outside the studio, and the band left the sound there as “a sick tribute”.
Sure, this is obviously bologna, but it’s a lot more interesting the much more probable claim that the screams are by the band’s bassist and the model is Ester Cordet. Cordet was a stewardess at the time and the October 1974 Playmate of the Month. Today, she is happily married to a smarmy motivational speaker and self-help author, Robert Ringer. Yuck. Sometimes reality is such a bummer.
THE war on drugs has been lost. The Government’s fight to control so-called legal highs is a sop.
The youth who want to get off their faces are always looking for new and imaginative ways to get a cheap thrill – like smoking bed bugs. ABC 15 Arizona has news:
NOT for the Daily Express a Daily Mail-themed slow, painful death by cancer. It can’t be bothered to wait:
Mars, Earth, and the Sun will all align tonight, a rare ‘opposition of the planets’ that only happens once every 778 days.
But what makes this so remarkable is that it comes precisely a week before everyone on earth will see the first of FOUR dark red ‘blood moons’, an extraordinary event some Christians believe represents the End of Days and the second coming of Christ.
The King James Bible predicts: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD comes,” [Joel 2:31].
But it not be so bad. As the trusty Express has predicted:
In other news: Sun scream gives you cancer…
WITH Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) shattering box office records this weekend, it is an opportune time to recall that this iconic Marvel superhero — and symbol of non-ironic Americana — has not always been treated very well by Hollywood.
In particular, the 1970s and 1980s proved a difficult span for the patriotic Cap, who had made a career in his Marvel comic-book of smashing Nazis and communists.
But first, the 1944 Republic serial, Captain America, created a new character and origin for the superhero.
THE isolated track of Merry Clayton’s vocal from The Rolling Stones’ 1969 hit Gimme Shelter is something else:
FACES of the day:
Malaysians gather during a candlelight vigil for passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, April 7, 2014.
The missing jet has vanished from the front pages and news cycle.
IN 1903, The Commonwealth Publishing Company of New York City’s magazine Vanity Fair (no, another one; this one ran from February 1902 to April 1904) produced the article on The Bifurcated Girls: Gay Girls In Trousers.
Dian Hansen notes inHistory of Men’s Magazines:
While France had a well-established men’s magazine industry by 1900, America was just showing its ankles in 1903. A magazine called Vanity Fair (unrelated to the current incarnation) was the raciest thing around, and rooming house loozies the hotties of the time. In this New York, tabloid girls who drank like men might strip down to their petticoats and fall into bed together, exposing their corset cover and stockings to peeping male boarders. The famously loose morals of stage actresses made them popular subjects for these shenanigans, but the biggest thrill of all was bifurcation. “What?” one may well ask. Bifurcation, meaning “split in two”, referred to the contours of a woman’s legs revealed by her donning men’s trousers. Bifurcation was a regular and very popular feature in Vanity Fair, it’s popularity leading to Vanity Fair’s Bifurcated Girls.
MARIA Miller has written an open letter to the people of Basingstoke, Hampshire:
“The last 16 months have been difficult. As you know, I have been working hard for Basingstoke and also doing my job as a Cabinet minister. During this time, I have been subject to an intense Parliamentary inquiry looking at extensive personal details of my family life, as a result of allegations made by a Labour MP.
“That committee has now published its report and I have accepted their findings in full. I have unreservedly apologised for the way I handled and apporached [sic] the inquiry.
“And I am pleased that the committee has fully dismissed all of the allegations made against me. Separately, I have already apologised and repaid an over-claim of my expenses, having myself drawn the committee’s attention to the matter immediately I was aware of it.
“I have always sought to do the best job that I can in representing the people of Basingstoke in Westminster. I am devastated that this has happened, and that I have let you down.
“I can only hope that over time the focus will once again by on Basingstoke.”
SPURS balls: Compare and contrast the words of Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood:
“The final league position has to meet the expectations of the club otherwise it’s ‘Goodbye Charlie’. The club need to finish in fourth place. Anything other than that is going to be a disappointment. Realistically we should be in and amongst it.
“There was never any pressure to get Champions League football. Just go out and do your best.”
It’s all about consistency.
WE’VE all heard about the titans of the silicon Valley venture capital industry. One day they put 30 cents into the stock of some company enabling people to show cat photos to each other and then three weeks later they’re running off with $10 billion from the IPO.
All most, most, annoying.
However, there’s one company out there that has been doing this venture capital stuff for over a century now. And they’ve made some quite glorious suck ups. No, not in what Bessemer Venture Partners did invest in, rather in what they didn’t. And they’re self-confident enough to tell us what they did fail to invest in too.
On investing in e-Bay:
“Stamps? Coins? Comic books? You’ve GOT to be kidding,” thought David Cowan. “No-brainer pass.”
THE Telegraph has the headline that we can all take a minute to appreciate:
Irish bomber blew himself up after device went off too soon ‘because he forgot to put his watch forward’
Our hero had placed a bomb beneath a Volvo SUV. Kaboom!
The suspected bomber was seen fleeing the area in Dublin with “blood dripping down his face” .
A police source told the Mirror:
“This certainly was a high-grade explosive used in this bomb. It wasn’t garbage stuff. It would appear the bomber got his timings wrong. It could be a case where he didn’t put his watch forward on Sunday and the timer went off too soon. If anyone had been in the car or walking near it at the time then they would have been killed.”
Supt Dave Taylor ads, lest the most simple fact escape us, as it seems to have escaped the cretinous villain:
“It is quite obvious that the car was the object of this attack.”
The owner of the vehicle, a local businessman, has offered no comment.
THERE’S been a bit of a furore over in the US about the new Michael Lewis book. He’s saying that all this high speed trading (that’s the stuff done by computers in nanoseconds) is just a rip off of the average investor. The sad thing is that he’s got it entirely wrong.
What HFT does do is add more liquidity to the markets. That is, there’s just more people buying and selling as a result of their activity. Because their activity is buying and selling, so obviously there’s more of it going on.