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‘The NeverEnding Story’-themed tablet covers
10:32 am

Pop Culture


Get it here

If you’re an 80s kid like me, you might really, really appreciate these handmade NeverEnding Story tablet covers. I found three of them online made by two different Etsy shops. The prices can range anywhere from $29.95 to $50. I have linked where you can buy ‘em under each image.


Get it here
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
David McCallum: Chill to the now sounds of the Musician from U.N.C.L.E.
10:27 am

Pop Culture


I guess you can call me a fan of NCIS—the long running hit TV series about a group of agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. In large part, I watch the series to keep abreast with one my childhood heroes David McCallum.

McCallum plays Donald “Ducky” Mallard, the wise, witty and slightly eccentric NCIS’ Chief Medical Examiner. No matter the storyline, McCallum is always enjoyable on screen—adding tension and fun to whatever he does.

For those of certain generation, McCallum is best known for his performance as the iconic Ilya Kuryakin in the glossy swinging sixties spy series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Though the series starred Robert Vaughn as the debonair agent Napoleon Solo—a character created by the author of the James Bond novels, Ian Fleming—it was always McCallum’s Kuryakin who drew the interest. Perhaps, I’m biased over my fellow Scot—though I think fan ratings from the day may prove me right.

McCallum is one of these actors whose career spans not just decades but several generations of fans—The Man from U.N.C.L.E., wartime drama about POWs Colditz, The Invisible Man, and that classic inter-dimensional cult sci-fi series Sapphire and Steel. Yep, I was a fan of all these.
A few years ago I punted the idea of a documentary on the great man making a return to his hometown of Glasgow in Scotland. It seemed an obvious win/win situation for BBC Scotland—but the powers at the top thought otherwise and alas this project was never made. However, when prepping the idea, one day and literally out of the blue, David McCallum phoned me at the office and gave his support to the project. He talked about his career and his memories of Glasgow and TV/Film and theater work. Never meet your heroes, they say. Well, I’ve met quite a few over the years and can honestly say I have yet to be disappointed. And talking with Mr. McCallum that rainy day in office in Anderston was a privilege and an utter delight. Maybe the BBC should rethink their demurral and make something soon….

But it’s not just his talent as an actor (or a writer) that makes McCallum special—he is also an accomplished musician who produced four groovy records in the 1960s.

McCaullm was born on September 19, 1933, at 24 Kersland Street, Glasgow, into a very musical household. His parents were both highly respected musicians—his father leader of the London Philharmonic—and they wanted their young son to follow in their footsteps:

...[T]hey suggested I take violin lessons—like father like son. Then they suggested the violincello—mother played the violincello. Then the piano—grandfather taught the piano!

Finally I gave in—my choice, much to their surprise—being oboe and English horn. I played both these instruments for many years and even studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

But then, McCallum decided he wanted to be an actor and a decision had to be made.

I had a choice: the theatre or music. I chose the theatre, and I was soon forced to give up all ideas of a musical career. I sold my oboe and I sold my English horn. But the desire to express myself in music never left and I still studied, including harmony, and the theory of music.

His acting career led him to America where he was soon a star—thanks to films like The Great Escape and of course The Man From U.N.C.L.E. on TV. McCallum was then offered the opportunity to his love of music.

In the fall of 1965, I devised an idea for a record album…born out of my past and out of my enjoyment of the music today. I wanted a sound that could play the current hits and at the same time possibly project something of me—a part of me.

McCallum took the idea to Capitol Records who liked the idea and within ten days the first session had been recorded.

Between 1966 and 1968, released four albums on Capitol Records: Music…A Part Of Me, Music…A Bit More Of Me, Music…It’s Happening Now!, and McCallum.
Together with famed producer David Axelrod, McCallum created a blend of oboe, English horn and strings with guitar and drums. They recorded interpretations of such hits as “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction,” “Downtown,” “Louie, Louie,” “I Can’t Control Myself” as well as some of his own rather tasty compositions, “Far Away Blue”, “Isn’t It Wonderful?” and “It Won’t Be Wrong”.

‘The Edge’—David McCallum.
McCallum wrote “The Edge” which was later sampled by Dr. Dre as the intro and riff to the track “The Next Episode,” and “House of Mirrors,” sampled by DJ Shadow for “Dark Days”.

More McCallum after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Doll parts: A terrifying glimpse inside doll-making factories from around the world
09:49 am

Pop Culture


Talking dolls waiting around in a doll factory in France, 1930
Dolls waiting around in a doll factory in France, 1930.
When I came across these photos I immediately drew the conclusion that they could have been shot by Alfred Hitchcock during his downtime, as most of them are (and I’m pretty sure it’s intentional), as terrifying as fuck.

Taken over the course of two decades from 1931 - 1955, the images were culled from photos of doll factories in the United States, England, Germany, France and Italy. And I’m not kidding when I say these photos will give you the creeps -  because the photos, such as the one of a group of disembodied, freshly cast doll heads impaled on iron stakes, or say dangling doll legs that are hanging up to dry (pictured below), look like they belong at a gourmet cannibal meat market run by Hannibal Lecter. You can thank me later for not sleeping tonight after checking out the rest of the photos. If you need me, I’ll be under the bed.
Dangling doll legs in a factory in England, 1951
Dangling doll legs in a factory in England, 1951.
Drying doll heads, 1947
Drying doll heads, 1947.
Trimming doll eyelashes, 1949
Trimming doll eyelashes, 1949.
Various, not terrifying at all dolls being painted in a doll factory in Italy, 1950
Various rather terrifying looking dolls being painted inside a doll factory in Italy, 1950.
More scary dolls after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Beautiful women from over 100 years ago as seen on vintage postccards
12:56 pm

Pop Culture


Flickr user Postman has amassed a terrific collection of vintage postcards dated from around 1900 to the 1920s featuring gorgeous women from around the world. I just love these. Not one duckface to be seen among them.

Beautiful then, and beautiful now. How did the standard of beauty come to be the Kardashian sisters? It must’ve crept up on us at some point.



More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star: Photos of the 1960’s Garage Band Explosion
10:57 am

Pop Culture


The Individuals.
I was living in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The year was 1964. I was thirteen. I was in my first rock band. Beatlemania was running wild and millions of kids across the USA were buying cheap Japanese electric guitars and drum kits and forming garage bands. My dad bought me a set of drums made by a company called Kent and I formed a group called The Continentals. We covered tunes by The Beatles and our set list included “Louie Louie,” “I Got My Mojo Workin,” “Shout,” “Glad All Over”—a couple dozen three and four chord rockers that kids could shimmy to. We played at Elks Lodge dances, supermarket openings and the Princess Anne Plaza movie theater Saturday morning kiddie show. At those kiddie shows we were the only performers who weren’t lip synching to some Frankie Avalon or Leslie Gore tune. We were the real fucking deal.

I wore a moptop and it got me into trouble at school, where the rule was no hair over the ears and bangs had to be the width of two fingers above your eyebrows. I broke the rules on a consistent basis. One day I was sent home for wearing madras pants to class. Those were some fucking slick slacks. All the other kids were wearing Gant shirts and Weejun loafers so my madras pants were an affront to the refined sensibilities of the pre-yuppie status quo of the early 60s. In those days high school had a caste system comprised of longhairs, straights, jocks and greasers. I was a longhair. And greasers hated the longhairs. But I dug the greasers. Cause they were rockers. We were fellow parishioners in the church of rock and roll. It took a woman to help me discover this. Her name was, and I’m not bullshitting, Rhonda.

One Saturday morning, The Continentals were working the crowd before a screening of some cartoon marathon at the kiddie show. We were tearing through “Eight Days A Week,” “Not Fade Away,” “Gloria” and some other cool tunes. The teenyboppers were really digging our shit. At the end of the set, we got a nice round of applause sprinkled with a few squeals. We took our bows and walked off stage. As I made my way up the aisle to the concession stand, there she was: Rhonda, a greaser goddess from the planet Maybelline.

Rhonda had a beehive that defied fucking gravity. Marianne Antoinette had nothin’ on this home girl. Rhonda’s do was sculptural: a follicle wonderland where Antoni Gaudi and The Ronettes sniffed hairspray and dreamed of Mayan pyramids. Rhonda had the fairest skin, the pinkest lips and the palest blue eyes I had ever seen. She was graceful and tall and moved with a serpentine stroll that would make a black snake moan. Rhonda was way out of my fucking league. This was “woman” in all her archetypal majesty—Shakti with a serious wighat. To my amazement, she seemed kind of love-struck. She said she liked the way I played the drums and she leaned over and gave me a kiss that tasted of lipstick and cigarettes. My knees buckled and I felt for the first time that rock and roll was more than music. It was supernatural.

Rock and roll was something that kids in the 1960s not only wanted to listen to, they wanted to make it themselves. They wanted to enter rock’s magic circle. Bands were formed in the thousands. Regional record labels popped up in every state in America. Way before the D.I.Y. explosion of the 1970s punk scene, we were doing it ourselves in towns like where I grew up. Anyone who had a garage could start a garage band. And since many garages were situated in the suburbs most of the bands were comprised of suburban kids. This was definitely not an urban phenomenon. And it was almost exclusively white despite that most of the music we were playing was created by black artists like Chuck Berry and Little Richard. But that’s another story.

So you want to be a rock’n'roll star
Then listen now to what I say
Just get an electric guitar
And take some time and learn how to play
And when your hair’s combed right and your pants fit tight
It’s gonna be all right

In these pictures you can see just how young and innocent most of these fledgling rockers were. They took on tough names and struck bad boy poses, but for the most part were just kids. We all wanted to be The Rolling Stones, The Seeds, The McCoys and The Blues Magoos. Most of us grew up to be average folks doing exactly what we rebelled against. Some of us stuck to our guns guitars. I know I did.

If you want to further explore the history of garage bands of the USA, Garage Hangover and 60s Garage Bands are great places to start. Plus, there are other websites devoted to regional rock bands of the 1960s just a few clicks away.

Dan And The Wanderers.

The Chancellors.

The Bar Boys.
More after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Holy weed: Nuns who grow pot
10:44 am

Pop Culture


Meet California-based Sister Kate and Sister Darcy, who grow, cultivate and harvest medicinal marijuana. The nuns label their medicinal remedies with their moniker The Sisters of the Valley. The Sisters—who consider themselves nuns but who are not Catholic or traditionally religious—prepare their remedies observing the cycles of the moon and “in a spiritual environment.” 

Photographers Shaughn Crawford and John DuBois captured the daily life of these nuns and their glorious-looking grow.

For more information about The Sisters of the Valley, you can visit their Facebook page here.



More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
A brief history of 90s Britpop as told through the covers of ‘Select’ magazine
01:01 pm

Pop Culture

P. J. Harvey
Stuart Maconie

Selective memory can be a marvellous thing. It ensures we are never wrong, always right and (best of all) that we have always had such impeccable taste in music.

In Britain there were a lot of drugs about in the nineties—a lot of bad drugs—which might explain why so many of us—who lived through that heady decade—only recall the really good stuff rather than all that crap we apparently really enjoyedMr Blobby? Babylon Zoo? Rednex? Will Smith?—well, somebody bought this shit, how else did it all get to #1?

Personally, I have no recollection (officer) as to how all these records charted, but I can certainly give you a brief illustrated history of what we were actually listening to and what we all supposedly liked.

Exhibit #1: Select magazine

Select was arguably the magazine of the 1990s—the one that best represented (or at least covered) what happened during that decade—well, if you lived in the UK that is. Select had attitude, swagger and wit and was very, very opinionated. It didn’t tug its forelock or swoon before too many stars—though it certainly had its favorites.

Select kicked off in July 1990 with his purple highness Prince on the cover. It was a statement of the kind of magazine they were going to be—cool, sophisticated, sexy, sharp. Prince was good—everybody loves Prince. It didn’t last long. Over the next few months, the magazine struggled to find a musical movement it could wholeheartedly endorse. In its search for the next big thing—even The Beatles (rather surprisingly) featured on its cover.

Select threw its weight behind such bands as Happy Mondays, Primal Scream, Blur and most significantly Suede—who never quite managed the level of success the magazine hoped for. Then Select did something remarkable—rather than follow the trend the magazine decided to shape it.

In April 1993, Select published an article by journalist Stuart Maconie entitled “Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr. Cobain?” In it Maconie made a very convincing case for abandoning the influence of American music (grunge) and taking up with the “crimplene, glamour, wit, and irony” of local British talent.

Maconie offered up a list of bands he thought would make it big—Suede, Saint Etienne, Denim, The Auteurs and Pulp—lumping them together under the title “Britpop.” Within a year—the idea of one journalist had become a movement of disparate bands, genres and styles—from Oasis to Blur, Elastica to Pulp, Sleeper to The Verve.

Maconie’s idea gave Select their drum—one they were going to bang until everyone was deaf or the thrill had gone.

Select lasted for just over a decade 1990-2001. Its final cover featured Coldplay—which might explain where Britpop had gone wrong. Some kind soul has scanned all of the back issues—inside and out—and a trawl through their covers tells the story of what was in, what was hip, and what was “going on.”

If you’ve a hankering for the past or just want to relive the heady days of the 1990s, then check here to read, view and enjoy the whole archive of Select magazine.
Prince on the very first cover of ‘Select’ July 1990.
Something old, something new… a taste of what’s to come…
Something very old: The Beatles—but a hint of what this magazine hoped to find in the 1990s…Britpop. November 1990.
You get the feeling this bloke’s gonna feature a lot in this magazine…Happy Mondays’ Shaun Ryder, January 1991.
More Select covers for selective memories, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘SPLAT!’: Archie Comics and the Joy of SFX
10:56 am

Pop Culture


Roy Lichtenstein’s Pop Art diptych painting Whaam! would not be as powerful without the giant yellow lettering spread over a large part of its canvas depicting the sound effect of a missile hitting a target and a plane blowing up. What the image cannot convey, the word ‘Whaam!’ signifies. There it is in stark bold letters—a brilliant sound effect open to a million academic interpretations.

In the 1960s, the much-loved Batman TV series interjected fight scenes with wonderful descriptive graphics of the various sound effects: “Ka-Pow!” “Smash!” “Aiiieee!” “Awk!” “BAM!”. These colorful images added greatly to the excitement of watching Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) defeat the Joker, the Riddler, Catwoman, the Penguin and all their other arch nemeses.
Roy Lichtenstein’s ‘Whaam!’ (1963).
Comic books, of course, have always had panels filled with such wonderfully onomatopoeic words that greatly add to the reader’s enjoyment. Away from the usual superheroes and action comics, artist Dan DeCarlo and Archie Comics brought a whole new level to the power of graphic book sound effects. DeCarlo has been described as:

...a master at framing a scene, clearly portraying the action, and conveying the appropriate emotions of the characters…. not as easy a task as you might think.

The figures in his frames are active—they are dynamic and appear to be moving and responding to the action around them. Add to this the incredible sound effects in every frame, then Betty, Veronica and their pals are suddenly in a work of surreal mini Pop Art.
A collection of ‘Batman’ graphic SFX.
However, it should be noted that it was the writer who usually picked the words to represent the various SFX and then the letterer who then placed them within the panel—as comic book writer and editor Paul Castiliglia explains:

....most of the sound effects are first indicated by the writer in the script, and then are added in to the art by the letterer after the pencil artist has drawn the figures in each panel. The pencil artist may write in sound effects (in plain text) to indicate their location in each panel but most of the time it is the letterer who determines the shape and lettering style for the sound effects and who actually renders them, inking the outlines.

Archie has employed many letterers over the years. It is highly likely that the majority of the panels you posted were lettered by Bill Yoshida; some may have been lettered by Archie’s long-time editor Victor Gorelick as well.

These written SFX often become the focus of our attention—creating a dynamism mere illustration alone could not provide. This is a little something I find quite fascinating—how did these writers come up with say “Smeerp!” to represent a kiss? Or “Sceeeee!” to depict something untoward just out of frame? Do people actually say “Awk!” when scared? Do we say “Aaaiiiiieeee!” when fleeing in terror? In fact, is there a thesaurus of these wondrous words? And if so, where can I get a copy?

This selection of Dan DeCarlo’s artwork with lettering by (most likely) Bill Yoshida and Victor Gorelick for Archie Comics are a superb example of the surreal joy of comic book SFX.
More of the joy of comic book SFX, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Growing up in arcades: 1979-1989
11:42 am

Pop Culture


Goddamn, do these photos bring back memories! I mean, this is exactly what it looked like in the ‘70s and ‘80s hanging out at arcades. I never really played the games back then as I wasn’t very good at them, but I did hang out with friends who did. I guess you could say I was an “arcade lurker.” This is all there was to do back then. This or going to “the mall.” Then again many arcades were in malls, weren’t they?

Anyway, Growing Up In Arcades is a delightful Flickr pool dedicated to all the arcades “that consumed much of our time and quarters back in the 80s.” The Flickr page is always “looking for scans of vintage games in the wild. So if you have old arcade or Chuck E Cheese birthday pics, dig ‘em up! They belong here.”

More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
This is ‘What the Future Sounded Like’: Meet the pioneers of ‘music without frontiers’
10:44 am

Pop Culture


If you’re British and of a certain age then Doctor Who was most likely your first introduction to the sounds of electronic music. Apart from its famous theme tune, Doctor Who used an electronic soundtrack composed by Tristram Cary to underscore the arrival of the Daleks onto TV screens in 1963. At the time, most people considered electronic music as weird, alienating noise. Using it in a primetime TV series like Doctor Who was—as one commentator explains in the fascinating documentary What the Future Sounded Like—a rather subversive act.

Tristram Cary struck upon the potential of tape and electronic music while serving in the Royal Navy during the Second World War. The son of the Irish novelist Joyce Cary (The Horse’s Mouth), Tristram was one of the earliest pioneers of electronic music during the 1950s. A classically-trained composer, he had scored such movies as The Ladykillers and Town on Trial but found traditional music inhibiting. Reasoning that music was just the organization of sound, Cary began to experiment with electronic sounds, tape recordings and musique concrète, in a bid to create “music without frontiers.”
At the same, two other electronic music pioneers, the aristocratic Peter Zinovieff and engineer David Cockerell were separately testing out their own ideas. The three eventually came together to form the Electronic Music Studios in 1969. Their intention was to produce a versatile monophonic synthesiser, which could be cheaply produced for public use. While this proved tricky, Cockerell did manage to design one of the first British portable commercially available synthesizer—or Voltage Controlled Studio—the EMS VCS3. This once futuristic-looking “suitcase synth” is what Brian Eno was seen using during his tenure in Roxy Music.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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