Neil Gaiman, Jesse Jackson and ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic read ‘Green Eggs and Ham’

Author Neil Gaiman, known for the Sandman comic book series, the teleplay and novel Neverwhere, and the book and film Coraline, among many other wonderful works, has made an amusing video of himself reading aloud from Dr. SeussGreen Eggs and Ham. There’s probably a rich lode in the notion of Gaiman/Seuss mashups, but this was done for charity:

I promised WORLDBUILDERS that if they made it to $500,000 raised I would read Green Eggs and Ham ob video. They did, so I did. I hope you enjoy it.


It’s fun, but it doesn’t touch Jesse Jackson’s infamous read of the book on Saturday Night Live in 1991:

Another winning contender in the Green Eggs and Ham-off is “Weird Al” Yankovic, whose response to a fan letter asking him to read the book on TV is hilarious:

I will not include Ted Cruz in this roundup. This is Dr. Seuss, we need to keep this dignified and respectful, please.

Via Metafilter

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
Terrifying, vivid portents of doom from 16th-century Germany
01:05 pm



Book of Miracles
Wow! Apparently, someone in Bavaria a very, very long time ago wanted to scare the living daylights out of a bunch of people. These astonishing gouache and watercolor paintings, commissioned by an unknown patron around 1552 in Augsburg, Germany, depict flying dragons, two-headed beasts, armored cupids (!), fire and brimstone, the whole kit and caboodle of the End of Days. They were discovered quite recently and sold at auction a mere six years ago.

I wish I could read these; I can understand German, but centuries-old portentous religious texts expose the limits of my paltry fluency. Fortunately, we have Joshua P. Waterman, who helped compile 169 (!) of these phantasmagorical images for the recently published Book of Miracles, to guide us:

The unidentified patron who commissioned this manuscript wanted to create a stunning visual experience…. The Protestant viewer would have reflected on the greater significance of these wonders: Why are there dragons in the sky? Why does it rain blood? Why are there three suns overhead? We know from contemporary sources that the answer was general: Things are wrong in the world. Repent and prepare for the end times, which are possibly now.

They implied moral improvement could mark a path not only to a better existence on earth, but also eternal life. Unfortunately, the catastrophes in the book—earthquakes, floods, storms, fires, and volcanic eruptions—are still all too relevant. Let’s hope instead that 2014 brings harmless wonders such as battles of celestial armies, which was the 16th-century interpretation of northern lights, and maybe some sword-wielding comets.

The Taschen book must be quite an impressive volume: the list price is $150, but at Amazon it’s a veritable steal at $101.12. Me, I’ll wait for the inevitable HBO series.
Book of Miracles
Book of Miracles
Book of Miracles
Book of Miracles
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
The story behind James Bond and his weapon of choice

We are in the land of bewhiskered firearms experts, secret agents, and eccentric Majors, where the quality of weapons are considered by their effectiveness to kill, without thought to the consequences of this function. It’s a fictional land, but with much bearing in fact.

Geoffrey Boothroyd liked to read spy novels, and in 1956, he was much taken by the latest thriller from Ian Fleming. But there was something wrong with this novel that featured the dashing Secret Service agent, James Bond, “certain inaccuracies” that made Mr. Boothroyd contact the author, to tell him:

“‘I don’t think Bond was going to last very long if he used a 25 Beretta pistol…

If we look at the series of James Bond novels, we can see that in the first, Casino Royale, Fleming armed his hero with a .25 calibre Beretta M418. This was a small pocket pistol that had limited stopping power. Bond kept this weapon in a chamois shoulder holster, which sounds overly fashionable (and done so as not ruin the line of his jacket), but it is not practical for a quick draw, as the soft leather catches onto the pistol. This is why holsters are usually made of solid, hard leather, for easy access.

Boothroyd wrote a politely critical letter to Fleming, in which he stated:

I have, by now, got rather fond of Mr. James Bond. I like most of the things about him, with the exception of his rather deplorable taste in firearms. In particular, I dislike a man who comes into contact with all sorts of formidable people using a .25 Beretta. This sort of gun is really a lady’s gun, and not a really nice lady at that. If Mr. Bond has to use a light gun he would be better off with a .22 rim fire; the lead bullet would cause more shocking effect than the jacketed type of the .25.

May I suggest that Mr. Bond be armed with a revolver?

Geoffrey Boothroyd and Ian Fleming try out a pistol for James Bond.
Ian Fleming was greatly impressed by Boothroyd’s knowledge, and wrote back:


31st May, 1956

Dear Mr Boothroyd,

I really am most grateful for your splendid letter of May 23rd.

You have entirely convinced me and I propose, perhaps not in the next volume of James Bond’s memoirs but, in the subsequent one, to change his weapons in accordance with your instructions.

Since I am not in the habit of stealing another man’s expertise, I shall ask you in due course to accept remuneration for your most valuable technical aid.

Incidentally, can you suggest where I can see a .38 Airweight in London. Who would have one?

As a matter of interest, how do you come to know so much about these things? I was delighted with the photographs and greatly impressed by them. If ever there is talk of making films of some of James Bond’s stories in due course, I shall suggest to the company concerned that they might like to consult you on some technical aspects. But they may not take my advice, so please do not set too much store by this suggestion.

From the style of your writing it occurs to me that you may have written books or articles on these subjects. Is that so?

Bond has always admitted to me that the .25 Beretta was not a stopping gun, and he places much more reliance on his accuracy with it than in any particular qualities of the gun itself. As you know, one gets used to a gun and it may take some time for him to settle down with the Smith and Wesson. But I think M. should advise him to make a change; as also in the case of the .357 Magnum.

He also agrees to give a fair trial to the Bern Martin holster, but he is inclined to favour something a little more casual and less bulky. The well-worn chamois leather pouch under his left arm has become almost a part of his clothes and he will be loath to make a change though, here again, M. may intervene.

At the present moment Bond is particularly anxious for expertise on the weapons likely to be carried by Russian agents and I wonder if you have any information on this.

As Bond’s biographer I am most anxious to see that he lives as long as possible and I shall be most grateful for any further technical advices you might like me to pass on to him.

Again, with very sincere thanks for your extremely helpful and workmanlike letter.

Yours sincerely



G. Boothroyd, Esq.,
17, Regent Park Square,
Glasgow, S

Indeed, Fleming did take on Mr. Boothroyd’s advice. In the fifth Bond novel, From Russia With Love, the Secret Service agent was greatly imperiled when the silencer on his Beretta snagged on his favorite chamois holster. This was the last novel in which Bond used a Beretta 418. In the subsequent novel, Dr. No, Bond was armed with a Walther PPK.

As a “thank you” to the Glasgow-based firearms expert, Fleming created the character Major Boothroyd, who first appeared in the sixth novel Dr. No as Bond’s service armorer. This character became “Q” in the Bond films, who was first played by Peter Burton in Dr. No, then from the second film, From Russia With Love, onwards, he was played by Desmond Llewelyn, until the actor’s death in 1999. John Cleese then took over the role right up to the arrival of Daniel Craig, where “Q” disappeared from the film series, until Ben Wishaw took up the role in Skyfall (2012).

Boothroyd also helped design the three-quarter trigger guard pistol used on the cover of Fleming’s From Russia With Love. Due to his interest in handguns, Boothroyd gave advice to the police during the murder investigation of American-Scottish serial killer Peter Manuel.

Boothroyd died in October 2001.

During the filming of the third James Bond movie, Goldfinger, at Pinewood Studios, England, in 1963, Sean Connery took time-off to present a brief film on the history of Bond’s weapon of choice.

Connery introduces Geoffrey Boothroyd, who explains the background to his interest in the character, the differences between the Beretta 418, Walther PPK and Boothroyd’s preferred gun, the Magnum 44—Dirty Harry’s favored tool of his trade.

H/T Letters of Note

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
We all know Robert Shaw was a great actor, but did you know he was also a great writer?

Robert Shaw liked to drink. Indeed, the actor, author and playwright liked to drink a lot. It could sometimes lead to near disastrous results.

During the making of Jaws, Robert Shaw had an alcohol-induced blackout during the filming of that famous S.S. Indianapolis speech. Shaw had convinced director Steven Spielberg that as the three characters in the scene (played by Shaw, Roy Scheider, and Richard Dreyfuss) had been drinking, it might be an idea to have a wee chaser before filming, just to get him in the mood. Spielberg agreed. It was an unwise decision as Shaw drank so much he had to be carried back onto the set. Hardly any filming took place that day, and Spielberg wrapped the crew at eleven in the morning.

Later that night, in the wee small hours, a panicked Shaw ‘phoned Spielberg to ask if he had done anything embarrassing as he could not remember what had happened. And would the director let him film the scene again?

The next day, a sober and contrite Shaw turned-up early for work, and delivered one of cinema’s most memorable speeches.

“Drink?” Shaw once famously said in 1977, “Can you imagine being a movie star and having to take it seriously without a drink?”

“I agree with Richard Burton that drink gives poetry to life. Drink for actors is an occupational hazard born largely out of fear.”

The stories of Shaw’s alcoholic excesses and on set pranks can sometimes overshadow his quality as an actor, and his talent as a writer. The academic John Sutherland has pointed out Shaw was a far better writer than many of the best-selling authors whose books inspired the films he starred in, particularly Pete Benchley (Jaws, The Deep) and Alistair MacLean (Force 10 From Navarone), though sadly none of Shaw’s five novels or his three plays are currently in print.

As we all (probably) know, Shaw himself was involved in the writing of the famous Indianapolis speech, as Spielberg has explained in 2011:

I owe three people a lot for this speech. You’ve heard all this, but you’ve probably never heard it from me. There’s a lot of apocryphal reporting about who did what on Jaws and I’ve heard it for the last three decades, but the fact is the speech was conceived by Howard Sackler, who was an uncredited writer, didn’t want a credit and didn’t arbitrate for one, but he’s the guy that broke the back of the script before we ever got to Martha’s Vineyard to shoot the movie.

I hired later Carl Gottlieb to come onto the island, who was a friend of mine, to punch up the script, but Howard conceived of the Indianapolis speech. I had never heard of the Indianapolis before Howard, who wrote the script at the Bel Air Hotel and I was with him a couple times a week reading pages and discussing them.

Howard one day said, “Quint needs some motivation to show all of us what made him the way he is and I think it’s this Indianapolis incident.” I said, “Howard, what’s that?” And he explained the whole incident of the Indianapolis and the Atomic Bomb being delivered and on its way back it was sunk by a submarine and sharks surrounded the helpless sailors who had been cast adrift and it was just a horrendous piece of World War II history. Howard didn’t write a long speech, he probably wrote about three-quarters of a page.

But then, when I showed the script to my friend John Milius, John said “Can I take a crack at this speech?” and John wrote a 10 page monologue, that was absolutely brilliant, but out-sized for the Jaws I was making! (laughs) But it was brilliant and then Robert Shaw took the speech and Robert did the cut down.

Robert himself was a fine writer, who had written the play The Man in the Glass Booth. Robert took a crack at the speech and he brought it down to five pages. So, that was sort of the evolution just of that speech.


Robert Shaw wanted to be remembered more as a writer than as an actor, and it’s sad to think the effort any writer puts into their body of work often ends up unread, forgotten, out-of-print, with limited availability from ABE Books or Amazon.

Shaw was born in Lancashire, England, in 1927, and at the age of six, he moved with his family to the Isle of Orkney, part of that remote and wind-swept archipelago to the north of mainland Scotland. His father was a doctor, and an alcoholic. He also suffered from severe depression. The father’s mood swings were violent and caused the mother, together with her children, to temporarily abandon their new home, only to return when his mother found she was pregnant. Though Shaw rebelled against taking-up his father’s profession, he inherited his genetic predisposition for alcohol.

As an “in-comer” the young Shaw was the focus of anti-English racism from his Orcadian classmates. He was bullied, but quickly learned to stick-up for himself. A probably apocryphal tale recounts how the young Shaw was ostracized and barred by some of the pupils from playing soccer. The canny Shaw, therefore, made friends with other outcasts, and formed his own soccer team. In a grudge match between the two, Shaw’s band of misfits thrashed the school’s eleven. Mind you, as this is a tale of a Scottish football team snatching “defeat from the jaws of victory” against a squad of “in-comers” led by an English laddie, well, it just might be true, as it fits the Scottish temperament.

His isolation on the isle was compounded by his father’s suicide (from an opium overdose) when Shaw was twelve. It was an event that had considerable effect, making the youngster emotionally withdrawn. Years later in 1965, when Shaw was becoming a movie star, the director Lindsay Anderson, who worked with Shaw in the theater during the fifties, noted (rather unfairly) in his diary how there was no “personal engagement” with the actor, which made his work:

”...deficient in real sensibility, to be studiously worked, and somehow over-conscious of effect.”

Yet, by his own admission, the waspish Anderson hadn’t seen Shaw’s spellbinding and brilliant performance as Aston in the film version of Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker, alongside Alan Bates and Donald Pleasance, or his “Red” Grant in From Russia With Love, or even his acclaimed turn on TV as Hamlet. In a way it’s typical of Anderson damning without just cause, but he does intuitively hit on the “temperamental clash” at work in Shaw’s life, as the actor does seem to have been driven by his own personal demons, which he spent a lifetime trying to contain.

In an interview for The Battle of the Bulge, from 1966, Shaw comes across like a very polite, clipped merchant banker, or government spokesperson. The only time he shows a glimmer of emotion, pride, is when he mentions his books.

More on Robert Shaw, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
‘Our Lenin’: Soviet propaganda book for kids, 1934
06:07 am

Class War


Our Lenin
While the word “propaganda” has a rather nasty, manipulative connotation, it isn’t necessarily defined as “lies” per se. All that WPA art encouraging people to brush their teeth and get tested for syphilis? Excellent uses of propaganda! And whether you’re trying to organize a community garden or start your own fascist regime, I think the most effective propaganda follows that same model of simple, informative, attractive messaging, easily interpreted by children or the uneducated. Catch ‘em young, and make it pretty, I always say.

Our Lenin, a children’s biography of Vladimir Lenin, does this perfectly. Translated and adapted from a Russian book, the US version of Our Lenin was published in 1934 by the US Communist Party. Although teaching the kiddies to revere Vladimir Lenin uncritically is certainly problematic (to say the least), the book is a beautifully executed piece of messaging, and the illustrations are just exquisite.
Our Lenin
Our Lenin
World War 1
Our Lenin
Would you like a socialist utopia, or capitalist fascism? Pick carefully now, children!
Our Lenin
Ohhhh, so that’s how it works. Seems easy enough.
Via Just Seeds

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
‘What you don’t mean won’t hurt you!’: Marching to Shibboleth with The Firesign Theatre
02:39 pm


Firesign Theatre

Attention Firesign Theatre fanatics, two long out of print books transcribing their surrealist comedy classics, have just been republished. It’s fascinating to see their work in the form of plays. We think of Firesign Theatre as writer/performers, but this puts them in a literary context as well.

I asked their longtime archivist and producer, my pal Taylor Jessen (who promised me he was going to make a Firesign Theatre documentary in 2014) to fill us in:

The Firesign Theatre is one of the greatest Shibboleth manufacturers in history. Fans who’ve heard their 1970 masterwork Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers are aware that we’re all marching to Shibboleth – a Shibboleth being, of course, the original Hip password.

No one in the late sixties crossed the Jordan into Hip society without knowing the good word of Firesign: “Shoes for Industry!” “He’s no fun, he fell right over!” “What you don’t mean won’t hurt you!” “He broke the President!” In short, if a stranger came up to you in 1970 and said “No anchovies? You’ve got the wrong man!”, and you didn’t know the next line, man, forget it.

Rolling Stone’s Straight Arrow imprint published all those lines in 1972 and 1974 in the form of the script collections Big Book of Plays and Big Mystery Joke Book. Out of print for more than three decades, they now return in a new one-volume collection, Marching to Shibboleth, available exclusively from the FireSale store. 354 pages; all the words and art from the original books; all the text re-proofed and re-set to match the design and fonts of the original layout; the photos re-scanned from original source material. It’s Firesign’s classic Columbia period totally transcribed – Waiting for The Electrician or Someone Like Him, How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You’re Not Anywhere At All, Dwarf, I Think We’re All Bozos on This Bus and The Giant Rat of Sumatra, plus vignettes, miniatures, a 400-year Fyre Sygne historical exegesis with a lot of really impressive footnotes that you should therefore TOTALLY BELIEVE, plus for the first time the complete script to Everything You Know Is Wrong. All this as well as a new introductory essay by Greil Marcus.

Guaranteed to look great on any comedy lover’s shelf next to Monty Python’s Flying Circus: All the Words and The Original Hitchhiker Radio Scripts.

Get your copy of Marching to Shibboleth, available exclusively from the FireSale store

Below, eight minutes of The Firesign Theatre’s “High School Madness” cut to the corny Henry Aldrich movies they were riffing on in the first place, via filmmaker Andre Perkowski:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
J. G. Ballard: ‘What I Believe’
07:25 am


J. G. Ballard

J. G. Ballard’s prose poem “What I Believe” was originally published in the French magazine Science Fiction, in January 1984. It was written in response to a request from editor Daniel Riche for the series entitled “Ce que je crois.” Described as “part poem part prayer” it offers a personal and amusing catalog of tropes and memes, the recurrent imagery, themes, and influences which are to be found in Ballard’s work.

Ballard’s poem subverts the pomposity of the traditional “What I believe” list, where you expect long meanders into politics and self-justification. Ballard’s is more fun, though as equally revealing as those written by Bertrand Russell or E. M. Forster.

The animation I believe or Credo was created for the first exhibition dedicated to J. G. Ballard and his work, which was held at the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB), Spain, in 2008.

It should be noted this is an edited version of Ballard’s “What I Believe,” as read by the author on the documentary series The South Bank Show, in 2006.

“I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world, to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen.

“I believe in my own obsessions, in the beauty of the car crash, in the peace of the submerged forest, in the excitements of the deserted holiday beach, in the elegance of automobile graveyards, in the mystery of multi-storey car parks, in the poetry of abandoned hotels.”

Here the poem jumps, excising Ballard’s belief “in the mysterious beauty of Margaret Thatcher, in the arch of her nostrils and the sheen of her lower lip…” too problematic for those on the Left in TV, where abhorrence is the expected response to Mrs. T. However, Ballard pointedly goes on to imagine Thatcher “caressed by that young Argentine soldier in a forgotten motel watched by a tubercular filling station attendant.”

Ballard admired Thatcher, and said in an interview contained in RE/Search that he had almost jumped for joy when the Iron Lady was first elected in 1979. But to be fair, so did most of the British voting public, hence Thatcher’s dominance in power over three elections. Margaret Thatcher was the kind of strong woman Ballard admired, though he did later satirize her as the environmentalist zealot, Dr. Barbara in Rushing to Paradise.

Like the artist Francis Bacon,  Ballard reworked his own personal obsessions in his work, he mined a distinctive style of fiction that was instantly recognizable—airport car parks, empty swimming pools, deserted beaches, forgotten motels, etc etc. These are the memories of his childhood in Shanghai, as filtered through the prism of his imagination.

H/T Suzanne Moore. More on what Ballard believes plus bonus videos, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
‘Experiencing Nirvana: Grunge in Europe, 1989’: Sub Pop co-founder Bruce Pavitt on his new book
04:18 pm


Sub Pop Records

Kurt Cobain
Experiencing Nirvana: Grunge in Europe, 1989 is one of those perfect records of music history that galvanizes the pedestrian as easily as the aural devotee. Chronicling eight electric (and sometimes volatile) days of Nirvana, Mudhoney, and Tad’s 1989 European tour, Sub Pop co-founder Bruce Pavitt has curated his memories, reflections and beautiful photography in an intimate compendium.On the very cusp of the grunge explosion, Pavitt had the wherewithal to photograph the small moments—moments which provide an ambient framing for this lovely scrapbook.

Bruce was kind enough to give Dangerous Minds an exclusive interview on the book, which helps support Seattle’s Vera Project.

(And for those of you in the New York area, Pavitt is launching a month-long installation exhibit at Rough Trade NYC. This Saturday, he’ll be there signing copies, with a Q&A session lead by Michael Azerrad. I’ll be in the corner fangirling and livetweeting @Amber_A_Lee.)

Amber Frost: How did this book come together?

Bruce Pavitt: My friend and editor Dan Burke and I originally released Experiencing Nirvana as an e-book using iBooks Author. Ian Christe from Bazillion Points then contacted us and offered to release it as a hardcover. The whole project has taken about a year and a half, and it’s been quite a process.

Amber Frost: The concept of a retroactive tour diary is total brain candy. Is it what you had in mind at first? Or did the format take shape as you organized your thoughts and materials?

Bruce Pavitt: From the beginning, we knew that we had a series of images that told a story; in fact we feel that Experiencing Nirvana would make an ideal storyboard for a film! Of course, we realized that the photos needed to be embellished with reconstructed diary entries to fully bring the images to life.

Amber Frost: There’s this strange sense of excitement in a lot of the photos—how much of that was the band’s growing success, and how much was just the thrill of being young and traveling?

Bruce Pavitt: A bit of both. My biz partner Jon and I knew that Nirvana, Tad and Mudhoney were three of the greatest live bands we’d ever seen. Those feelings were validated from both the crowds and the critics overseas. People went off at every show, and it built to a climax when all three bands shared the same stage in London. The photos show our appreciation of both the bands and the awe inspiring scenery.
Kurt Cobain
Pavitt’s picture of Kurt Cobain in Rome
Amber Frost: What was your sense of the tour’s significance at the time? Did you have predictions? How did they turn out?

Bruce Pavitt: I’ve never taken more photos, neither before nor after. I instinctively felt that this tour would be historically significant, and both Jon and I believed that this London showcase would put Seattle on the map. As it turned out, NME proclaimed Nirvana to be “Sub Pop’s answer to the Beatles.” Our gamble paid off.

Amber Frost: You describe a lot of stress on the tour—particularly with Kurt wanting to simply go home. How fragile or stable did the band feel?

Bruce Pavitt: Both Tad and Nirvana were fairly ragged after zig zagging across Europe in a shared van for almost 6 weeks. By the time we met up with the crew in Rome, Kurt was out of patience. It was just day by day after that, until the band finished up in London.

Amber Frost: A lot of Nirvana’s legacy is obscured by the tragedy of Kurt’s death, so much so that his personality is often simplified into depression and addiction. How would you describe him as a person?

Bruce Pavitt: Kurt was essentially a sweet and sensitive guy, creative, humorous and a true fan of indie music. He was also moody, introspective, and appreciated his alone time.

Amber Frost: In the book you obviously talk about Mudhoney and Tad as well Since grunge was gaining popularity as a movement, did you predict at all that Nirvana would becoming its unwitting “stars?”

Bruce Pavitt: My Sub Pop partner Jon Poneman was Nirvana’s earliest and biggest fan. However, by the time Nirvana played London in December of ’89, I was a true believer.

Amber Frost: With the genre name no longer in use, and Sub Pop now an institution, what do you think the “legacy” of grunge is?

Bruce Pavitt: Grunge was very welcoming and inclusive. For a not-so-brief moment in time, anyone with a flannel shirt and a pawn shop guitar could feel that they had a chance to change the world. I welcome a resurgence of that attitude.

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
It’s 1980’s trash-horror films a go-go with Bleeding Skull!

For those of us who grew up during the golden era of VHS, the shelves at the local Mom & Pop video store were the equivalent to visiting some king of gloriously mutated version of Disneyland. The beauty of that era was that because the format being new, all kinds of movies came out of the woodwork. Films like First Blood or E.T. had a great chance of playing in theaters ranging from the metropolitan to box-shaped bergs in the smallest of corn-town America. But what about titles like Psychos in Love, Death Spa or Black Devil Doll From Hell? Forget it, but that was the beauty of VHS is that it truly made the movie going experience more personal and democratic.

This was never more true than for the horror genre, with the 1980’s being the apex decade for some of the most lurid, grue-filled, nudity-ridden and straight up crazy films in the field. Thanks to the fine folks at Headpress, there is a funhouse ride of a book dedicated to these films. The tome in question? Bleeding Skull: A 1980’s Trash-Horror Odyssey. Originally a website started back in 2004 by Joseph A. Ziemba, who was later joined by Dan Budnik, Bleeding Skull, both as a website and book, is a compendium of all the horror films that more academically minded or overall discerning writers would quickly bolt from. This is, naturally, a highly positive thing!

That fact alone makes Bleeding Skull worth noting, but the added bonus is how entertaining both Ziemba and Budnik are to read. They both have the whole “snark with love” vibe down to a fine art. There are some incredibly funny lines in this book, but they never override the overall reviews. There’s a sensibility to the whole thing of a guy sitting next to you at a bar,  telling you about this weird movie that he just saw that was directed by the guy that made The Giant Spider Invasion and stars Tiny Tim as a sweaty and depressed clown named “The Magnificent Mervo.” (The film in question, by the way, is Blood Harvest. and yes, it exists. Glory.) Who else is going to talk about obscure, made in Wisconsin horror films with Tiny Tim as a clown in them? Not many but that right there captures the essence of Bleeding Skull.
Bleeding Skull Book Cover
Another impressive thing about this book is that Ziemba and Budnik have truly combed the depths of ultra-obscure horror films for your enjoyment. This was an area of film that before reading this book, I was fairly confident that I knew more than the average bear. Which, while I still do, compared to these guys, I AM the average bear. If it was a no-budget, shot-on-video one day wonder from two guys in Duluth, Minnesota, then dollars to donuts, it is written about in this book!

Headpress continues to cement their already solid reputation as one of the finest purveyors of fringe culture with Bleeding Skull. So crack open your favorite libation, dust off your VCR that’s been gathering dust in your attic and be prepared to read about some of the best, worst, trashiest, sleaziest and gonzo trash-horror films from one of the darkest decades in cinematic history.

Below, for your viewing pleasure (?) Blood Harvest starring Tiny Tim as “Mervo the Clown”:

Posted by Heather Drain | Discussion
The new Doctor Who’s Oscar-winning short film: ‘Franz Kafka’s It’s A Wonderful Life’
08:31 am


Peter Capaldi

So, Peter Capaldi has finally arrived as the new Doctor Who, making a promising (though fleeting) appearance at the end of a rather indulgent (and dire) Christmas Doctor Who special. I do hope Mr. Capaldi brings the tired series back to some quality story-lines, and less of the puerile, narcissistic, self-referential navel-gazing of recent years. (Or, in the words of Elvis Presley, the series needs “A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action.”) Capaldi certainly has the pedigree to deliver this, as he is already an Oscar-winning film director and writer, who picked up an Academy Award for his fabulous short Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life in 1995.

Capaldi’s film features Franz Kafka (wonderfully played by Richard E. Grant) suffering a frustrating bout of writer’s block, as he works on the opening line to his story Metamorphosis:

“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”

Brilliantly imagined, with superb supporting performances from Ken Stott, Elaine Collins and Phyllis Logan, this is a perfectly enjoyable winter treat.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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