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Watch it now: Spalding Gray’s 1986 monologue ‘Terrors of Pleasure’
10.25.2014
10:57 am

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Movies

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Spalding Gray


 
I was re-watching And Everything Is Going Fine the other day, Steven Soderbergh’s touching tribute to Spalding Gray, and it made me happy and sad all over again. So many of Gray’s monologue works are hard to get ahold of, especially the early ones, which may literally not exist anywhere. It got me hunting around for whatever I could find on YouTube, and I discovered a pretty solid Spalding Gray monologue movie I hadn’t heard of before.

Terrors of Pleasure has the distinction of being the other monologue that Spalding Gray performed at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center in 1986—it alternated with the far better known Swimming to Cambodia, which was filmed by Jonathan Demme as a movie for release in 1987. That movie was for many people the “gateway drug,” if you will, to the endlessly entertaining world of the New England WASP neurotic who before then had toiled in the downtown performance scene for quite a while with experimental theater outfits such as the Wooster Group. Afterwards his filmed monologues such as Monster in a Box and Gray’s Anatomy became much better known than, say, Sex and Death to the Age 14 or 47 Beds. (Like Swimming to Cambodia, Terrors of Pleasure could be considered a 1986 monologue that was released in 1987.)

This movie of Terrors of Pleasure is an odd duck. Directed by Thomas Schlamme (who later became more prominent as a key collaborator of Aaron Sorkin’s), it features a technique of filming brief vignettes (with hired actors, location scouts, the whole deal) of the story Gray is telling, which is primarily about the misadventures Gray and his longtime girlfriend Renee Shafransky invite when they impulsively buy a small cabin in a rural outpost near New York City (although there is a significant tangent of Gray auditioning to co-star opposite Farrah Fawcett in a movie). 
 

 
Terrors of Pleasure is very funny indeed—it might be Gray’s funniest, hard to tell. At the core of the narrative about the cabin is an audio recording, played by Gray with a boombox, of the seller of the house attempting to strong-arm Gray into buying—it’s an amazing clip but one wonders if it was real, a question that maybe too few have asked in connection with Gray’s monologues. I suspect that a lot of them were pretty far from literally true even as they probably remained scrupulously true in a psychological sense. The recent troubles of performance artist Mike Daisey, whom I’ve seen perform several times (I saw Gray do his thing twice), haven’t really raised similar questions about Gray’s work—although the filmed clips in Terrors of Pleasure very much expose the absurdity of many of his stories. The literalization of actually seeing the characters of his stories hectoring him or intoning their ridiculous utterances should at least give the skeptical viewer pause.

Two other quick things that are odd about Terrors of Pleasure—the laugh track, which I suspect was taken directly from the audience but was merely amplified, is a choice that wouldn’t be made the same way today, we can be certain of that. And for some reason the monologues ends almost mid-sentence. It doesn’t cohere to an end and then fade out or anything, it pretty much just cuts to a “Directed by” screen for Schlamme, who apparently was the one who made the weird decision to cut it off so abruptly. The YouTube video matches the length of the official release, so that isn’t the problem.
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Alfred Hitchcock: On nightmares, suspense and how to scare people
10.24.2014
10:43 am

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Books
Movies

Tags:
Alfred Hitchcock

alfdbrdhtch.jpg
 
Every second Friday was mobile library day. At ten to four, I would run down the street to the local co-op store where the giant black library truck always parked, next to a small power generator with its electric hum, rushing to be first in line, waiting for the librarian to lower the steps and squeeze open the vehicle’s accordion door. Inside were tightly crammed wooden shelves of dreams and adventures and endless pleasures. I always made straight for the horror and ghost stories, the monsters and creatures from some dark beyond lurking inside their covers. I liked Poe, I liked Blackwood, I liked James, I liked Bradbury, I liked Bloch, I liked Hitchcock. The librarian always scanned the covers with her cool blue eyes, fin-tailed spectacles tied to a chain around her neck. “Isn’t this book a little old for you?” she would ask tapping a finger on the cover of the latest Alfred Hitchcock compendium of tales. I didn’t think so, and protested, saying I’d read all the others she had, so what could possibly be wrong with this one? “But he’s so macabre,” the librarian replied, taking out the stamp, dampening it on the ink pad and punching out a return date. “I hope you don’t get nightmares, now,” the librarian said as I ran down the stairs and back home through swirling autumn leaves.

Of course I wanted nightmares, that was the whole point—why else would I read Alfred Hitchcock’s “tales to make my skin crawl” or “tales to make my heart stop”? That was the whole idea. I knew Hitchcock didn’t write the stories, but knew he had chosen each story because they were supposedly so terrifying, so gob-smackingly horrific, and I always hope that they were. In my innocence, I believed that in facing up to the worst terrors an imagination could conjure up would only make me stronger.

The covers may be different from the books I borrowed from the mobile library, but the titles and the tales were the same. The trick of thrilling suspense, as Hitchcock once said in an interview in 1966, was to make the reader or viewer identify with a central character and bring in the unexpected—like a man who sees a road accident, sees the dead body and moves on, only on a second look does he suddenly recognise the dead man. And then we’re hooked, like I was once hooked on these Alfred Hitchcock books.
 
alfantisocial.jpg
 
alfbreakscreambarr.jpg
 
alfcoffincorner.jpg
 
alfdeathbagcorpse.jpg
 

 
More classic Hitchcock covers, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Troma classics ‘Surf Nazis Must Die’ and ‘Street Trash’ soundtracks released on vinyl
10.22.2014
10:53 am

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Movies
Music

Tags:
soundtracks
Troma

Surf Nazis Must Die album cover
 
Troma fans, B movie freaks and 80’s kids rejoice! The first physical release for the soundtracks of two 1987 cult films, Surf Nazis Must Die and Street Trash are now available to spin on your very own turntable. Neither synthed-out soundtrack has ever been available before, unless of course you’re the proud owner of a beat-up bootlegged cassette you’ve been holding onto since high school.

The first pressing for Surf Nazis (composed by Jon McCallum who also did the soundtrack for the equally excellent Miami Connection), was limited to 1000 copies. 800 were pressed on standard black 180 gram vinyl and another 200 blue and red “Blood in the Water” colored variations were distributed at random by Strange Disc Records, in a gorgeous old-school gatefold for which McCallum also did the stunning cover art for. If you are a lover of movie soundtracks and vinyl, this one can still be had for the low price of $20 over at Strange Disc’s online store. 400 copies of a cassette version of the soundtrack were also released exclusively on Cassette Store Day this year (September 27th), and are available now for seven bucks over at one of my favorite record labels, Light in the Attic.
 
Street Trash album cover
 
The movie soundtrack for the greatest movie Troma ever made, the gloriously gross Street Trash also saw the light of day for the first time last month, and the pressing will not disappoint the movies die-hard fans. Composed by Rick Ulfik, the album is being distributed by Lunaris Records for a mere $20 bucks and is available in standard black, opaque yellow, and a color called “Toilet Blue” in honor of the infamous Street Trash toilet melt-down scene. The release includes liner notes from Ulfik, the single “We Do Things My Way” written by producer Tony Camillo (who’s worked with everyone from Stevie Wonder to Parliament) and is performed by actor Tony Darrow (who Martin Scorsese cast in Goodfellas after seeing his performance in Street Trash). It’s also available on cassette for eight bucks. Squeee! If you are a vinyl addict like me, you may want to sit down while viewing the following images and the video trailer heralding the Surf Nazis release.
 
Surf Nazis Must Die Blood in the Water colored vinyl
 
Surf Nazis Must Die cassette
 
Street Trash
Street Trash “toilet blue” vinyl
 

Posted by Cherrybomb | Discussion
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Sexy M*therf*cker: The ‘Pulp Fiction’ makeup collection
10.22.2014
06:30 am

Topics:
Fashion
Movies

Tags:
Pulp Fiction
Makeup

Mrs. Mia Wallace from Pulp Fiction
 
I will freely admit I’m a bit of a cosmetics addict. After discovering a new makeup collection by Urban Decay based on the look Uma Thurman cultivated for her role as “Mrs. Mia Wallace” in Pulp Fiction, my current addiction suddenly just got a whole lot more dangerous.

The difficult job of selling something is made easier when that something comes in some sort of irresistible package and is described using as many compelling words as possible. Cosmetic giant Urban Decay completely nailed both of these points with the design of their limited edition Pulp Fiction palatte ($16) which comes with eye shadow colors that are named using a few memorable words from Samuel L. Jackson’s “Ezekiel 25:17” speech in the film. Specifically the following five:  “Righteous”, “Tyranny”, “Vengeance” and of course, “Furious/Anger.” In addition to the palatte, there’s a deep blood-red colored lipstick, lip-liner and nail polish all named “Mrs. Mia Wallace.” 

Adrenaline shot not included.
 
Pulp Fiction Makeup Collection by Urban Decay
 
Pulp Fiction Palette Ezekiel 25:17 quote
 
Pulp Fiction Palette colors by Urban Decay
 

 

Posted by Cherrybomb | Discussion
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Amazing vinyl toys of Bill Murray, Mighty Boosh, IT Crowd, The Shining & Christopher Walken


Tubbs & Edward from The League of Gentlemen

UK-based advertising and design company A Large Evil Corporation has these amazing vinyl dolls they’re creating daily for their blog to get into the Halloween spirit. I’m completely drooling over the The League of Gentlemen and Mighty Boosh vinyl toys. I never thought in a million years I’d see Tubbs and Edward dolls! They’re just brilliant!

Keep checking out A Large Evil Corporation’s blog as they’re adding new ones all the time. I’m curious as who or what they’ll do next (and if one can purchase these masterpieces? It’s unclear.) Maybe a Jill Tyrell figure (played by Julia Davis) from the dark British comedy Nighty Night?


What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
 

Christopher Walken
 

The Hitcher from The Mighty Boosh
 

The Torrances from The Shining
 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Can you spot all of the Star Wars icons discreetly tucked away in these photographs?
10.21.2014
07:38 am

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Art
Movies

Tags:
Star Wars
photography


 
Photographer Thomas Dagg created his “Star Wars” series as a sort of homage to his childhood, a time when the films pervaded his imagination on a daily basis. As a kid, he would draw space ships onto magazine photography; this work is merely a more sophisticated version of that same sort of superimposition. It’s the subtlety of the shots that really make the pictures interesting, as if the characters and vehicles are unremarkable details in a mundane setting. Some of them you have to strain to find.

Most of the scenes feature Dagg’s own childhood toys and action figures, only two use shots from the movies. (Careful buddy, that’s the kind of thing that will get you sued!) Honestly, even before noticing the ewoks and AT-ATs, the pictures themselves are beautiful, with a use of light and contrast that creates a quiet intimacy.
 

 

 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Think Pink: Angelyne, the billboard queen of Los Angeles
10.20.2014
07:34 am

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Art
Movies

Tags:
Angelyne
Robinson Devor


 
All over Los Angeles in the mid-1990s were high-hoisted billboards in tribute to a pneumatic blonde named “Angelyne,” who peered over sunglasses to her admirers below. This was when I first visited the city in fall of 1994 and found that no matter where I traveled there was always a giant monument to Angelyne, the billboard queen—or as I thought of her, Our Lady of Los Angeles. When I asked who and what and why? no one knew much other than to say in that kinda laid back Angeleno way, “Oh, that’s Angelyne—she’s famous for being famous,” as if this somehow explained everything.

Famous for being famous?

I suppose it did in some kind of a way make sense and captured something of the hope people have for the great American dream, where anything or everything is supposedly possible. And in an unconsidered way, she seemed an appropriate metaphor for LA and Hollywood. For many years Angelyne’s billboards were LA landmarks, even earning her a cameo (via one of them) in the opening to the 80s TV series Moonlighting with Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd.
 
ang2billelynebrdla.jpg
 
Angelyne is an actress and a model and a singer and an artist and… she even ran for governor of California in 2003, where she polled 2,536 votes. She still sometimes appears in movies and exhibits her childlike portraits in galleries across LA, but no one really seems to know any more about her than they did back in 1994, or even 1984 when those giant pink “Angelyne” billboards first blossomed over Sunset. (For instance WHO was footing the bill for these billboards?)

In 1995, a young filmmaker named Robinson Devor made a short film about Angelyne. Devor is a highly talented, genuinely brilliant maverick filmmaker whose work includes the movie The Woman Chaser and the disturbing award-winning hybrid documentary Zoo about the death of a man after intercourse with a horse. But long before all this (and sadly many other unrealized projects), Devor shot a grainy B&W documentary on Angelyne, which looks almost like a taster tape for a longer doc—but still its five minute + running time probably says all that needs to be said about Our Lady of LA, Angelyne.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Ugly Xmas sweaters inspired by ‘Gremlins’ and ‘Fargo’
10.17.2014
12:17 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Movies

Tags:
Christmas

Gremlins Christmas sweater by Mondo
 
The mad minds over at Mondo have really outdone themselves when it comes to the world of knitwear. In May they released “The MONDO 237 Collection” a selection of wearables and home decor that homaged The Shining.

Now that sweater weather has arrived again, Mondo has put out two new items; a sweater tribute to the 1984 film Gremlins and the 1996’s Fargo. Both will make great gifts for your nerdy sister or easily help you win you any ugly sweater contest in Anytown, USA. Each sweater retails for $85 bucks and pre-orders are going on now over at Mondo’s merch shop.
 
Gremlins Christmas sweater (back view) by Mondo
Gremlins sweater (back view)
 
Fargo Christmas sweater by Mondo
 
Fargo Christmas sweater (back view) by Mondo
Fargo sweater (back view)

Posted by Cherrybomb | Discussion
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Finally, a Millennium Falcon made entirely of hash oil!
10.15.2014
08:38 am

Topics:
Drugs
Movies

Tags:
marijuana
Star Wars


 
The Instagram feed of invader_dab is a veritable gold mine for sculptures made purely of “dabs,” a.k.a. butane hash oil and “shatter,” a sort of crystalized sheet of same (thank you, urban dictionary). For reasons unknown to me, “dabbing” is also snonymous with errl.

Invader_dab has also posted pics of LEGO men, a rubber ducky, and a video game controller—all made out of cannabis concentrates. The life span of the sculptures is expected to be limited—if indeed they are still in existence—as eventually someone will want to get totally hooted on part of Han Solo’s rickety space freighter.
 

 

 

 
via Animal

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Seven cover versions of ‘Ghostbusters’ from the Dream Syndicate’s 1984 tour
10.15.2014
06:57 am

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Movies
Music

Tags:
Ghostbusters
Dream Syndicate


The cover of the 1985 Ghost Busters bootleg, recorded in Frankfurt
 
In the storm of publicity attending the 30th anniversary of Ghostbusters, a much more important occasion has been overlooked: the 30th anniversary of the Dream Syndicate covering the movie’s theme song. In the summer and fall of 1984, as Ray Parker, Jr.‘s damnably infectious hit saturated the airwaves of the US and UK, the Dream Syndicate worked out a simplified arrangement of the song based on the “Gloria” chords. If you listen to all seven extant versions, “Ghostbusters” might start to sound completely different; it might even start to sound like something off Dylan and the Band’s Basement Tapes.

On tour behind their second album Medicine Show in the US and Europe, the Dream Syndicate sometimes played “Ghostbusters” toward the end of the set. The earliest version—at Jimmy’s in New Orleans, with Tommy Zvoncheck of BÖC on keys—is fairly straightforward, aside from the homage to “Werewolves of London.” By the time they reach D.C., though, having ditched (or been ditched by) the keyboard player, and having reduced “Ghostbusters” to its simplest components, they can do anything with it.

At the 9:30 Club, guitarists Wynn and Precoda quote “Rock And Roll Part 2” before shredding in the style of Television—it’s a shame the tape runs out. In Stockholm, Wynn sees an opportunity to stir up the audience, and works himself into a lather setting up “Ghostbusters”:

Okay, listen, we’re doing a song that’s a big hit in the USA, but I don’t know about here. So the question is, uh, how many of you know a song called ‘Ghostbusters’? Gimme some lights. You know it? You know ‘Ghostbusters’? Get up here and sing it with us. You gotta sing it. C’mere, c’mere! Get up! Whoever can say the word ‘Ghostbusters,’ come on up. Is it a hit here? You’re shy. Alright, who can say ‘Ghostbusters’?

And in Bochum, Germany, “Ghostbusters” becomes the basis for a long jam that turns into “Suzie Q.,” “Sister Ray,” and “L.A. Woman.” Frankfurt gets a slow take on the song that is actually kind of spooky.

One of my favorite things about these performances is that, during the call-and-response section of the song, one band member—bassist Mark Walton?—screams “Ghostbusters” with a little too much spirit and freedom, as if he is belting out the chorus of Discharge’s “Why” rather than lending his assent to the innocuous refrain of a dance song for children’s parties. His commitment to the song is deserving of praise. Bustin’ made him feel bad!

The “Ghostbusters” covers commence after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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