Peter Cushing: A moving interview on love and death with the ‘Gentleman of Horror’
01.23.2014
02:10 pm

Topics:
Belief
Television

Tags:
Peter Cushing

gnihsucretephorror.jpg
 
When Peter Cushing was a child, his mother dressed him as a girl. He had long blonde hair, tied with a bow, and enviable selection of dresses. His mother had always wanted a daughter, and was deeply disappointed that her second and last child was a boy.

One day Peter went missing, having wandered off in his frock to paddle in some puddles.  Fortunately, he was found by a local policeman. When his father called the police station to ask if by any chance they had found a missing boy, the desk sergeant replied there was no boy, just a little girl. It turned out, this little girl was Cushing, and it was the last time he was ever dressed as a girl.

His also mother meted out a strange punishment to her children. Whenever they were naughty, she would pretend to be dead. This caused the young Peter great distress, while his brother, being more robust, suggested kicking their mother to make sure she was dead.

While his mother was a brief but emotionally strong influence on his life, it was another woman, the actress Violet Helene Beck, who was the greatest, most beneficial and enduring passion in his life.

Peter met Helen when they were both struggling actors. It was love-at-first sight, and they married in 1943. Helen recognized that Peter was the better actor, and gave up her acting to support her husband in his career. Success was a long time in coming, taking Peter until middle age for him to make his mark: first in the BBC dramatization of George Orwell’s 1984, and then as Baron Victor in The Curse of Frankenstein.

Cushing became an international star appearing as Van Helsing in Dracula, Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles, as Doctor Who in Dr. Who and the Daleks, and later as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars.

When Helen died in 1971, Cushing was bereft, and almost out-of-his-mind. It took him thirteen years to get over her death. He survived this time by working continuously, and being consoled by a letter Helen left him, and his belief that they would (somehow) meet again.

I was in the Peter Cushing Fan Club when I was a child. To me Cushing represented that old fashioned gentlemanly style of horror, in the tradition of Boris Karloff, Vincent Price and even Basil Rathbone. Cushing had an intelligence and a warmth of personality that made the whole experience of being terrified tremendous fun.

The new Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi once said (in an old Radio Times Q&A, I seem to recall) that he was also in the Peter Cushing Fan Club, and copied Cushing’s style of signature as his own. Understandable really, as who wouldn’t want to be such a distinguished and thoroughly decent human being?

In 1990, Peter Cushing (then retired) gave an interview to the Human Factor, where he talked about his love for his wife, his belief in an afterlife, his suicide attempt, his cancer, and the key moments from his childhood and his long and successful acting career. As an atheist, I don’t follow Cushing’s views of an afterlife, but his interview is still moving, poignant, and enjoyable—like watching the sun slowly set on a childhood summer.
 

 

Bonus: Peter Cushing’s last appearance on Terry Wogan’s chat show, 1988.
 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Peter Cushing’s death wish

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Sarah Palin 2.0: Why doesn’t the Republican Party just run a crackhead for the Senate in Alaska?


 
If this is the caliber of GOP political candidate one tends to find in Alaska, it goes a long, long way to explain why and how Sarah Palin ever got elected governor of that state.

Yep, check out this video, originally posted by Kathleen Tonn, who is running as a pro-life US Senate candidate, on her own Facebook page. In the clip Tonn is seen standing in a steam room, with all of her clothes on trying to “convert” a women by speaking/singing to her “in tongues.”

It’s pretty remarkable. Mind rot at its very finest. She wanted people to see this video. It was important to her, obviously. That’s why she made it and posted it, obviously…

“I’m at the Alaska Club West and I’m spending a little time in the steam room with Suzie. Suzie doesn’t know Jesus Christ as her savior, but ironically she has a pastor/priest who is her neighbor. So, she has allowed me to sing and deliver a message in the Holy Ghost and tongues.”

She mentions that her smartphone’s battery is running out and then:

“One point of clarification: Speaking in tongues or singing in tongues is very valuable because the message cannot be understood by Satan. But the Holy Spirit can use that message to bring deliverance, to bring clarity, to give discernment and words of wisdom and knowledge, and tongues is interpreted by a person who has the gift of interpretation. So I’m going to go fast.”

Tonn, who lives in Anchorage, is apparently setting her sights on running against incumbent Democrat Mark Begich on the Republican Party ticket. One day she would even like to be President of the United States. On her Google+ page, she declares:

“I love to worship the Lord! I love the Bible! I stand for limited government, the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution! I hate socialism with a passion!!! When the country collapses, what are you going to do?”

Obviously people have been poking fun at her, er, zaniness. One memorable comment, responding to her headline of “How To Get A Nation’s Attention,” described Tonn’s video as “an impromptu American Idol audition in gibberish for a stranger in a steam room.”

Tonn addressed her critics on Tuesday via her Google+ account:

“I have not deleted the stupid and insane remarks made by others, so people can see what comes forth from the mind of evil. Fortunately there are legitimate, wise, Godly people who have viewed the content of this video clip. They contacted me too! For those individuals who are searching to learn truth about a Creator, this has helped them.  So I won’t delete your dumb comments.  They are very revealing of who and what you are!”

So is posting a video of yourself acting like a lunatic when you’re running for the US Senate. Just sayin’...

I am reminded of the subtitle of Lenny Bruce’s Togetherness album: “I’m not a nut, elect me!” You would think that right about now there might be thousands, even tens of thousands, of Alaskans—many of them meth-heads—thinking to themselves, “If this fuckin’ loony toons can run for the US Senate, then so can I!

Think of that sweet Senate pension.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Evangelicals and the atom bomb: Are you ready for the great atomic power?

atomic pamphlet
 
My only actively religious family (my paternal grandparents and their copious siblings) are staunch, old-time religion Evangelicals. And though their church is marked by a fear of women, queer folks, Catholics, and virtually anyone outside of their own insular community, there are some unexpected strengths in Evangelical culture. For example, we have a very, very literal belief in the apocalypse, which we embrace with utter joy. While perhaps not an overly healthy perspective on life, our belief in the imminent end of the world tends to give us a devil-may-care, come-what-may kind of insanity that is not without its charm. It’s an oversimplification, but the old joke, “What’s a redneck’s final words?” (“Hey! Watch this!”), has some grounding in our cultural reality. We’re just not that worried—the Lord will protect us until He’s ready to take us home.

I cannot tell you how how many family meals have been graced with the blithest of reminders, “Jesus is comin’ back, you know. Any day now. You want some more potatoes?” It’s why we’re obsessed with Israel—gotta’ get them Jews back to the homeland so the world can end! It’s why we panic over major changes and/or progress—it’s obviously a sign, and we have to warn those strayed from the flock! It’s why we tend toward disaster-based scenarios, often leaning libertarian and perusing bomb shelter catalogs while cleaning our guns. The world is going to end, and we want to be ready. (Before our souls ascend, of course.)

So I wasn’t at all surprised when (during one of my regular investigative searches on atomic culture), I found these old religious pamphlets using nuclear warfare as Biblical fodder. Nowadays, we’re less concerned with the bomb itself, but fears of warfare (nuclear, chemical, or otherwise) have always been a popular theory for Evangelical catastrophists. Moreover, I’m very familiar with what may be the most resilient artifact of Evangelical nuclear scare—The Louvin Brothers’ 1952 gospel classic, “Great Atomic Power.” In addition to being a truly killer song, it’s got the “all doom, no gloom” sentiment down pat. I advise you to have a listen to the track at the end—your very soul may depend on it.
 
atomic pamphlet
 
atomic pamphlet
 
atomic pamphlet
 

 
Via Ptak Science Books

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
Let Leonard Cohen give you a fascinating primer on Tibetan Buddhism
01.14.2014
06:27 am

Topics:
Belief

Tags:
documentary
Leonard Cohen
Tibet
Buddhism
Zen

Cohen
Cohen in Buddhist regalia
 
Celebrities and artists discussing religion is always a tricky business. Fame tends to be a of a very worldly nature and often threatens to cheapen the subject, or distract from the gravity of spiritual matters. This can go doubly awry when westerners project their exotic fantasies on Asian religions—the fantastic book, Karma Cola, by Gita Mehta is an insightful look at the phenomenon of American and European “pilgrims” traveling to India, hoping to find enlightenment. (Since people are people, anywhere you go, many of those pilgrims were defrauded by fake yogis—India’s snake oil salesman and televangelist swindler equivalent.)

However, Leonard Cohen’s narration of the 1994 documentary pair, The Tibetan Book of the Dead: A Way of Life and The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation, is both understated and dignified (with the first film featuring The Dalai Lama himself). Cohen, who was ordained as a Rinzai Zen Buddhist monk in 1996, is staid in his narration of Tibetan Buddhist theory and practice, but the films are neither dry nor academic—a scene with a man in a hospice dealing with his own mortality is particularly affecting. I have to say, I initially just checked this out looking for something on Cohen’s Buddhism; what I found was an extremely respectful and compelling documentary, devoid of voyeurism, and mindful of the humanity of its subjects.

The series in its entirety is divided into five segments below, four being about 20 minutes long, with a two-minute clip in the middle.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
Get your popcorn ready: Bill Nye the science guy to debate idiot Creation Museum founder Ken Ham


 
Bill Nye, the popular TV scientist, put out a video last year indicating his opinion that teaching Creationism in schools wasn’t such a hot idea and might, you know, intellectually stunt the mental growth of the children subjected to such nonsense. Showing up for college with an Old Testament notion of how the universe and life in it came to exist, might, you know, put your kid a lil’ behind the curve…

In any case, Ken Ham, the moron who founded the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY, challenged Bill Nye to a public debate and… Nye accepted! The debate is being touted in a message on the museum’s blog.

The February 4th event will ask “Is Creation A Viable Model of Origins?”


 
According to a recent Pew poll, for 46% of Americans—including 53% of Republican voters—the answer, sadly, appears to be a YES.

Nye’s original video prompted a response video from the Creation Museum (below). I wouldn’t put money on Ham to come out ahead in this debate!
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
‘F for Fake’: Orson Welles on art forgery and what’s really ‘real’


 

If you’ve seen Orson Welles’ late period quasi-documentary F for Fake, then you know about the mysterious art forger Elmyr De Hory. In his freewheeling cinematic essay, Welles explored the funhouse mirror life of de Hory, who found that he had an uncanny knack for being able to paint counterfeits of Picasso, Matisse, Modigliani and Renoir’s work. After some of his fakes were sold to museums and wealthy collectors, suspicions were raised and his legal troubles—and a life spent moving from place to place to avoid the long arm of the law—began.

At the time Welles met up with Elmyr in the early 70s, he was living in Ibiza and had been the subject of Fake! The Story of Elmyr de Hory the Greatest Art Forger of Our Time written by notorious “biographer” Clifford Irving, who himself figures prominently in the film. During the course of filming F for Fake, Irving (who was later portrayed by Richard Gere in The Hoax), was serendipitously revealed to have forged his own “autobiography” of Howard Hughes (not to mention Hughes’ signature). The resulting film, an essay on the authorship of “truth” in art, is a dazzling, intellectuality challenging masterpiece that can never quite decide if it’s a fake documentary about a fake painter of fake masterpieces who himself was the subject of a fake biographer… or what it is. (It’s no wonder that Robert Anton Wilson was such a fan of F for Fake, which figures prominently in his book, Cosmic Trigger II).

 

image
Self-portrait of Elmyr de Hory, approx. 1970, recently discovered in France.

F or Fake also calls into question the nature of “genius”: If Elmyr’s forgeries were good enough to pass off as Picasso or Modigliani’s work, or even to hang in museums under the assumption that they were the work of these masters, wouldn’t Elmyr’s genius be of equal or even nearly equal value to theirs? (Worth noting that it was ego that got in the way of Elmyr’s scam at several points in his life: He was often left apoplectic at hearing how much crooked art dealers were making from his paintings!)

De Hory’s former bodyguard and driver, Mark Forgy, has kept Elmyr’s archive since his suicide in December 1976. In recent years Mr. Forgy has been trying to make more sense of Elmyr’s odd life. From the New York Times:

“I’m so far down the rabbit hole,” Ms. Marvin said in a recent phone interview, “I’m just not going to rest until I find out who this man is.”

A few weeks ago, she and Mr. Forgy traveled to western France and unrolled a dozen de Hory paintings that had been discovered in a farmhouse’s attic. In Budapest, they found birth records, dated 1906, for Elemer Albert Hoffmann, son of Adolf and Iren. No one knows when Elemer upgraded his name, or how he financed art studies in Munich and Paris before moving to New York in 1947.

He claimed that his father was a Roman Catholic and a diplomat, but the Budapest ledgers list Adolf as a Jewish merchant. The Nazis killed his entire family, Mr. de Hory said. But a cousin named Istvan Hont visited the artist’s villa on Ibiza, where Mr. Forgy was working at various times as a chauffeur, secretary and gardener. Mr. Hont, it turns out, was the forger’s brother.

Mr. Forgy knew that his boss copied masterpieces but did not much question their life on Ibiza, in which they kept company with celebrities like Marlene Dietrich and Ursula Andress. “I accepted the amazing with a nonchalance,” Mr. Forgy said in a recent phone interview. Mr. de Hory was the focus of Orson Welles’s 1974 documentary “F for Fake,” and Clifford Irving breathlessly titled his book “Fake! The Story of Elmyr de Hory the Greatest Art Forger of Our Time.”

After Mr. de Hory’s suicide, Mr. Forgy returned to Minnesota. “I went into deep seclusion” working as a night watchman and house restorer, he said. He held onto the papers and paintings. “I have schlepped them around endlessly,” he said. “The walls here in the house look like the Pitti Palace in Florence.”

His wife, Alice Doll, encouraged him in recent years to examine the stacks of false passports, Hungarian correspondence and Swiss arrest reports. Ms. Marvin contacted him last year. She had helped organize a show about faked and stolen art at the National Museum of Crime & Punishment in Washington, including a portrait of a pensive brunette by Mr. de Hory imitating Modigliani.

The researchers are now raising money for the documentary, developing an exhibition for the Budapest Art Fair in November and preparing to interview a nonagenarian de Hory cousin in Germany. They also plan to send paintings for lab analysis. “We’re trying to create a forensics footprint of his work,” Ms. Marvin said.

They already know that Mr. de Hory tore blank pages out of old books for sketching paper and bought paintings at flea markets to scrape and recycle the canvases. His fakes have become collectibles. Last fall, at a Bonhams auction in England, a buyer paid more than $700 for a seascape of crowded sailboats, with a forged Raoul Dufy signature on the front and “Elmyr” on the back.

Elmyr website

F for Fake is on Hulu and YouTube.
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
The most bored teenagers in America watch bogus Creationism vs. Evolution speech


 
Aside from this utterly hilarious 90s-era Creationism vs. Evolution school assembly speech (Come on, who came up with these graphs?), it’s the cutaway shots of the totally bored teens that are the true gems in this mess. One male teen in the audience is so bored that he actually starts to nibble on his hand to pass the time. Others bite their nails, yawn, give the side-eye to one another and so forth…

They definitely don’t want what he’s selling. You can’t blame them with lines like, “That stupid theory of evolution that’s included in the books as if it is a fact and it’s nothing but a Pagan religion.”
 

 
Via Christian Nightmares and Everything Is Terrible

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
‘Santa the Hutt’ mocks Christmas gluttony and excess


 
The BetaBrand store, located in San Francisco’s Mission district, has a vile, blobby yuletide greeting I can totally get on board with: Santa the Hutt! 

According to Chris from BetaBrand:

Our aim: To poke fun at holiday excess and explore anti-Santa sentiment. Our achievement: Over a thousand people have taken holiday photos at our Valencia Street store since rolling him out last week.

snip~

He now begrudgingly poses for holiday photos with Valencia Street shoppers if only because he’s too obese to move.

Santa the Hutt seems unlikely to be posing for Playgirl anytime soon…
 

 

 
Via Boing Boing

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
A quick way to get rid of pesky Jehovah’s Witnesses
11.18.2013
09:18 am

Topics:
Amusing
Belief

Tags:
Jehovah's Witnesses


 
I don’t want to ruin to this video for you (it’s only one-minute and 37 seconds long), but stay tuned for the belly laugh at the end. It’s contagious!

According to YouTuber hitmn92 it was house cleaning day. And, yes, that is indeed his voice you hear in the background singing along to his favorite 80s powerhouse jams. 

 
Via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
He raises the dead and whitens teeth with his supernatural powers: The miraculous Minister Mills
11.17.2013
09:47 am

Topics:
Belief
Kooks
Stupid or Evil?

Tags:
Joshua Mills


 
Why not? Jesus turned water into wine and stones into loaves of bread.

This odd fellow is Minister Joshua Mills and, according to his website, he’s no stranger to miracles:

During his services signs and wonders are commonplace with manifestations of supernatural oil and gold dust, creative healings, supernatural weight-loss, financial miracles, Angelic visitation and heavenly encounters.

During his visits to indigenous people of Canada, Mills really pulled out all the stops and managed to shift his miracle-making powers into high gear.

God began to move upon the Inuit people with signs and miracles – saving the lost, healing the sick, raising the dead, mending broken hearts and performing unusual wonders.

What? No teeth whitened? No fragrance of toothpaste? Watch the video!

Mills’ take on humanity is pretty dire and you’ve got to wonder why he gives a shit about people’s teeth. Among his list of seven things he believes in, here’s an upbeat nugget:

The utter depravity of human nature, the necessity of repentance and regeneration and the eternal doom of the final impenitent.

Somehow he manages to smile through it all as he goes about raising the dead only to condemn them to eternal doom. He’s kind of like Jesus with a cruel streak.

And ladies, in case you’re wondering, unfortunately, Minister Mills is married.
 

 
Now for the musical side of Minister Mills. For close to two hours, Mills vamps over the jazz/rock noodlings of his back-up band. Nothing quite coalesces into actual song. But at the 11:15 mark, Mills starts singing in tongues and giving up the funk.

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:

Silly evangelists expect followers to believe in the lamest ‘miracle’ of all time!

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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