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Punk rock is coming for your children! Arrogant talk show host blows an easy one


 
The alarmist punk-rock-is-coming-for-your-children episode of everywhere’s local talk show was practically a genre unto itself around 1980. They typically followed a template: a safe, comfortable, grinning suburbanite moderator projects his or her values onto a movement s/he doesn’t understand at all, and expects a handful of alienated, hobo-looking kids that the producer dug up somewhere to represent punk as a whole, as though a couple of random petulant runaways should shoulder the responsibility of justifying the existence of a broad international musical and cultural movement. On better shows, they found bright kids, and the hosts at least made an effort at understanding the new weirdness, instead of just hectoring their guests about their negativity, as though all art was invalid unless it existed solely to entertain them personally.

This is not one of the better shows.
 

 
Stanley Siegel was an interviewer of some repute, who fancied himself audacious and uncompromising, but was often really just kind of a showboating dick. In one infamous episode, Siegel physically restrained Timothy Leary before sandbagging him with a surprise phone call from Art Linkletter, who blamed LSD, and by extension, Leary, for his daughter’s suicide. So yeah, THAT kind of showboating dick. On his obligatory punk rock scold show (IS IT A DEATH TRIP OR A RITE OF PASSAGE?), he managed to book credible guests and proceeded to treat them with amazing condescension. In addition to the usual few aimless kids, Siegel landed Penelope Spheeris, director of the canonical L.A. punk documentary The Decline of Western Civilization, and artist Gary Panter, whose logo for the band Screamers is such an elemental piece of punk art that it’s probably much better-remembered than the band itself. He’d become even better known as a cartoonist for RAW and as the set designer for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.

Spheeris, right out of the gate, is just not having any of Siegel. At first it seems like she’s trying a little too hard to affect disaffection, but soon enough, what looked at first like brazen posturing (“I’d like to be a hooker?” Really?) becomes more than justified by Siegel’s smug, curt patronization. Real quote: “This woman actually produced and directed a film!” Spheeris would go on to make the cult classic Suburbia and the mainstream classic Wayne’s World, and is still directing. Not sure Siegel’s career was quite so storied, but whatever. It’s all pretty eminently watchable.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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‘Lost in Space’: Dr. Zachary Smith screams!

drzachscream.jpg
 
Whoever suggested that “in space no one can hear you scream” had obviously never watched or more accurately heard Dr. Zachary Smith shriek in terror at the many alien lifeforms he encountered in sixties’ sci-fi series Lost in Space. Anyone who ever watched this particular show will remember two things: the Robot—apparently a “Class M-3 Model B9, General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot,” and the cowardly, interfering, cunning and comic Dr. Zachary Smith unforgettably played by Jonathan Harris—an actor whose mere appearance on screen could enliven the dullest fair. Though neither of these characters were included in the original unaired pilot, both quickly became central to the show’s success.

Lost in Space (1965-68) followed the (mis)adventures of the “Space Family Robinson,” a clan of astronauts, astrophysicists, biologists and their incredibly smart offspring, whose expedition into space was sabotaged by Dr. Smith, sending them altogether with their rocket (Jupiter Two) into the furthest reaches of the universe.

Jonathan Harris was a damned fine actor who, with his clipped mid-Atlantic accent and refined features, once considered the possibility of becoming another Cary Grant, but sense thankfully prevailed,and Harris knew he was best suited to being a character actor. Harris was originally just a guest star on Lost in Space, but as the series developed, and budgets were cut, he was encouraged to rewrite his dialog (“Never fear, Smith is here!” “Oh the pain, the pain…”) and add mannerisms to his character, as co-star Billy Mumy, who played Smith’s young side-kick the child prodigy William, said in 2002:

“...we’d start working on a scene together, and he’d have a line, and then in the script I’d have my reply, and he’d say, ‘No, no, no, dear boy. No, no, no. Before you say that, The Robot will say this, this, this, this, this, this, and this, and then, you’ll deliver your line.’

“He truly, truly singlehandedly created the character of Dr. Zachary Smith that we know — this man, we love-to-hate, coward who would cower behind the little boy, ‘Oh, the pain! Save me, William!’ That’s all him!”

For those who fondly remember Lost in Space, or just fans of the great Jonathan Harris, this three minutes of Dr. Zachary’s screams are utter bliss.
 

 
With thanks to Tim Lucas!

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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The women of ‘Twin Peaks’ re-imagined as Sailor Jerry style pin-ups
12.18.2014
06:49 am

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Pop Culture
Television

Tags:


 
San Francisco based illustrator Emma Munger is a recent MICA grad who’s working in a comix shop while producing fun portfolios inspired by the famed tattoo artist Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins. Though she’s done pin-ups and flash pages of characters from Orange is the New Black, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Parks and Recreation, and Thelma and Louise, her largest collection is the women of Twin Peaks. You may never look at the Log Lady the same way again, and before you even ask, yes, Agent Bryson is indeed one of the ladies. Prints of Munger’s work are available from søciety6.
 

Laura Palmer
 

Nadine Hurley
 

Audrey Horne
 

Denise Bryson
 
Log Lady and much more (some slightly NSFWish) after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Butthole Surfers, Wire, The Fall, Pere Ubu and Fugazi on SNUB TV
12.17.2014
08:28 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
SNUB TV


 
If ever a televised music program was ripe for a digital-media anthology, it’s the wonderful SNUB TV. Originally a segment within the USA cable network’s storied Night Flight from 1987-88, SNUB TV soon became a show in its own right on BBC2, helmed by journalist Brenda Kelly and director Peter Fowler. Its existence in that form, from early 1989 to mid 1991, falls almost exactly in the gap between the end of the era in UK pop dominated by the likes of the Smiths and Echo and the Bunnymen, and the ascendancy of Britpop. Accordingly, it became a go-to for coverage of the Madchester/baggy scene and the early stirrings of shoegaze. Segments featuring Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, My Bloody Valentine, Ultra Vivid Scene, Ride, the Darkside, Spirea X, and Stone Roses are on YouTube, and they show a program committed to intelligent coverage, one that took the aesthetic merit of new movements as a given, without condescension. They even jettisoned presenters. There were a couple of VHS anthologies released in the early ‘90s (which is the only way I knew about its continued existence post-Night Flight), but they’ve been out of print about as long as the show’s been off the air. A DVD/Blu-ray set is desperately overdue.

SNUB TV’s strengths weren’t limited to showcasing the new noise. Kelly and Fowler did inspired features on established independents from the early punk and hardcore scenes, as well. This Butthole Surfers segment rivals any of the band’s interviews for sheer weirdness, gives us a peek at the group in the studio, and contains rare live footage of the demented downer-psych freakout “Jimi,” from the Hairway to Steven LP.
 

 
After the jump, The Fall’s Mark E. Smith, Pere Ubu’s David Thomas, Wire, and Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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‘AD/BC: A Rock Opera’: Brilliant ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ parody
12.09.2014
10:01 am

Topics:
Belief
Music
Television

Tags:
Matt Berry
Richard Ayoade


 
To list the principal talents of AD/BC: A Rock Opera, a 30-minute parody of 1970s religious rock and roll musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell (hell, throw in Hair as well), is to name a healthy portion of the people who have made British comedy so vital and bracing over the last 10 or 15 years. You’ll find the names Matt Berry, Richard Ayoade, Julian Barratt, Noel Fielding, Graham Linehan, Steve Coogan, Matt Lucas, and Rich Fulcher prominently displayed in the credits of The IT Crowd, The Mighty Boosh, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, Snuff Box, I’m Alan Partridge, Nighty Night, Little Britain, and Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy. Given that pedigree, the puzzle is why it’s not better known outside of Britain and hailed as a Christmas classic.
 

 
If you were for some reason obstinately holding the view that there wasn’t much overdone or mannered about the 1970s genre of religious rock musicals, let AD/BC serve as the ecstatic corrective. Berry and Ayoade’s narrative, which dates from 2004, is a played as a “straight” recreation of a 1978 rock opera focusing on on the “Innkeeper” in Bethlehem who owns the manger where Christ was born. (There’s a clever touch of an in-house network tag indicating that “AD/BC” was broadcast on December 19, 1978.) The plummy intro of composer “Tim Wynde” (Berry), who also plays the innkeeper, introduces us to “a man whom I always thought to be one of the more intriguing yet under-explored figures in this oft-recounted tale—in fact, one might immodestly call it ‘the greatest story never told.’” The innkeeper’s problem in life is that “running an inn is just mumbo and jive”—but no worries, there’s a gratuitous montage of actual 1970s B&B’s to explicate his lot.
 

 
The exquisite joke underlying it all is that the innkeeper’s story is dreadfully boring, so they have to gin up a plot about the innkeeper being threatened by “Tony Iscariot,” a rival hotel owner, played by “Roger Kingsman, from the Purple Explosion” (Barratt, sublime). Ayoade plays “Joseph Christ,” who in a campfire solo heavily influenced by CCR’s “Proud Mary” explains that his wife is pregnant, even though “Christ, I swear I never touched her / But she tells me everything’s all right.”
 

 
Indeed, just about everything in AD/BC is gorgeously, intentionally “over-” something: over-emphatic, over-done, over-ripe. It may be the most meticulously executed and lovingly observed parody since, well, Young Frankenstein. For those who suspect that it might be kind of a one-note gag, the glorious success of AD/BC lies in a thousand tiny details, a cut between scenes that is six frames too early, the sudden and unmotivated amplification of a lyric, the unabashed use of freeze frames and split screens, the anachronistic use of “Christ” as a malediction, the many puzzling cuts and transitions and wipes, the pandering and facile verses that tend to explain everything three times, the unbridled posturing by most every singer, the egregiously dated sexual attitudes (“time is a menstruous women, one cannot control her eddying currents…”), the oddly mis-sync’d vocal tracks, the occasional insertions of dialogue (unadjusted for pitch) between verses…..

TL;DR: AD/BC is a hilarious parody of Jesus Christ Superstar that has a half-dozen smashing songs and dozens of rib-tickling details. I’m tempted to just list the many, many delicious jokes buried in here, but it’s best you discover them for yourself—and best of all, it’s just in time for our weeks-long celebration of the birthday of… Our Lord.
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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The marvelous cover art of the early ‘Star Trek’ comic books


 
Poor Gold Key Comics. Despite their stewardship of tons of familiar titles, they always ranked a tier (or three) below the A-list. While Marvel and DC had all the high-octane superhero star power, Gold Key largely got by on licensing properties from other media. They did comic book tie-ins with Hanna-Barbera, Warner Brothers, and Disney cartoons, and brought TV shows like The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Twilight Zone, H.R. Pufnstuf (!!!), Dark Shadows and Star Trek to the comics racks. Amusingly, some of their tie-in comics outlived by years the original TV series’ upon which they were based, but the company’s fortunes waned throughout the 1970s, and after they lost the lucrative Trek license to Marvel in 1979—just months before that franchise’s cinema revival—their days were numbered. Gold Key was done for by the mid 1980s.

But though they were never the heaviest hitters, Gold Key weren’t wanting for talent. A young Frank Miller’s first pro gig was illustrating a story in The Twilight Zone, and ‘60s-‘80s sitcom deity Garry Marshall wrote scripts for some of their titles. And they had cover painter George Wilson. It’s is beyond frustrating how difficult biographical data on Wilson is to come by. Despite being as prolific as he was accomplished, he has no Wikipedia entry, and searches for his work are complicated by the existence of a pulp novel cover illustrator by the same extremely common name. But his obscurity—and I get that he was basically a jobber, but still—does nothing to diminish his gifts, and it’s just all kindsa wrong that as yet there’s been no big, lavish, coffee-table book collecting his work. He produced incredible numbers of vivid, exciting, superbly designed, impeccably rendered, ridiculously fun cover paintings for Gold Key’s sci-fi, adventure, and horror titles, including many for Star Trek. A lot of the covers that weren’t by Wilson were thrown-together photo illustrations. We suspect you’ll agree that these are far preferable.
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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They’re creepy and they’re kooky: Audition photos for ‘The Addams Family,’ 1964
12.04.2014
11:44 am

Topics:
Pop Culture
Television

Tags:
The Addams Family


 
I had a good time looking through these audition photos for The Addams Family dated 1964. It’s just plain weird (and fascinating) to see other actors and actresses trying out for these iconic roles because I simply can’t imagine anyone else playing them. 

Clearly John Astin who played Gomez Addams was cast first. You can see in the photos that they’re testing the Morticia wannabes’ onscreen chemistry with him. Cara mia!


An actress who looks like Julie Newmar (but isn’t) trying out for the role of Morticia
 

John Astin with actress auditioning for the role of Morticia
 

John Astin with a Morticia wannabe
 

John Astin and another hopeful Morticia
 

A would-be Morticia Addams
 

John Astin with yet another actress auditioning for the role of Morticia
 
More Addams audition photos after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Donny Osmond serenades Miss Universe contestants with Steely Dan’s ‘Peg,’ 1979
12.04.2014
10:49 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Steely Dan
Donny and Marie Osmond


 
In an event that some commentators are calling “the most 1970s thing that ever happened,” Donny Osmond in 1979 was hired to sing a treacly medley of four recent pop hits to the five finalists of the Miss Universe beauty pageant, a medley that starts with Steely Dan’s “Peg” (off of 1977’s Aja) and then segues to Wings’ “Goodnight Tonight” (non-album single), The Commodores’ “Three Times a Lady” (1978’s Natural High), and Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” (1976’s Songs in the Key of Life).

It’s too bad they don’t let Osmond sing all of “Peg,” but some producer probably wisely decided that it would be too goofy to have him sing the line “It’s your favorite foreign movie” in such a setting—to a Brazilian or Swedish woman, no less, and in Perth, Australia! According to Wikipedia (see last link), after Maritza Sayalero (Miss Venezuela) was crowned the winner, the stage holding her throne collapsed when the runners-up flocked towards her in order to congratulate her. That incident did not make the TV cut.

Interestingly, Osmond included “Peg” on his album Soundtrack of My Life, released earlier this year, in a much more, er, up-to-date style.

Here’s Osmond singing his medley at the 1979 Miss Universe pageant. Just for kicks we’ve also included the (much-better-known) version of the Dan’s “Reelin’ in the Years” (off of Can’t Buy a Thrill, 1972) he taped with his sister Marie in early 1978.
 

 
More of the Steely Dan/Osmonds intersection after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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John Cleese names his favorite show he’s ever done—it’s probably not what you were expecting
12.01.2014
10:47 am

Topics:
Television

Tags:
John Cleese
Monty Python
lemurs


 
A few days ago, the Nerdist released its interview with John Cleese of Monty Python. The host, Chris Hardwick, admits to worshiping Cleese—who can’t relate to that?—and they spend a really easygoing hour or so together. Cleese is promoting his new memoir So Anyway, which Jonathan Yardley in the Washington Post called “smart, thoughtful, provocative and above all funny,” even if Lewis Jones at the Spectator in the UK called it “a dreary compendium of pompous self-congratulation and tetchy sarcasm.” Ouch.

Anyway, about 58 minutes in, Hardwick asks Cleese about the “favorite thing that you’ve ever done.” What would he pick, do you think? Monty Python and the Holy Grail! Or maybe the Dead Parrot sketch? Oh, how, stupid of me, of course he would pick Fawlty Towers, that’s a no-brainer. Although you never know, it could be his psychology books with Robin Skynner or A Fish Called Wanda (which briefly established Cleese as the thinking woman’s sex symbol) or the business training videos he did for the company he founded, Video Arts. Or The Human Face?

Nope, nope, and nope. Turns out all of those guesses are way off.

Here’s his answer to the question: “I made a little documentary about lemurs in Madagascar once, and there was something about that I thought was very warm and mellow, and I liked that, I liked that a lot. And it enabled me to make a few sort of jokes that I hadn’t made before, and it was something really fresh.” After that, Cleese confides that the making of Fawlty Towers was a happy experience, but the filming of Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life was very much the opposite, not a happy experience at all.
 

 
The “little documentary” cited by Cleese is called “Operation Lemur: Mission to Madagascar” (although the in-show title, as you can see, is “Lemurs with John Cleese”). It was filmed as part of a series of nature programs that ran for several years called Into the Wild in which they would sent Hollywood celebrities to distant wildlife destinations, such as sending Julia Roberts to Borneo to learn about orangutans or Goldie Hawn to India to witness elephant life.

Cleese has developed a serious affection for lemurs. On Cleese’s Facebook page, his “About” area contains the following text: “John Cleese is a tall person who likes lemurs, coffee and wine. He’s also been known to write and act a bit.” He has also had a lemur named after him—the Bemaraha woolly lemur is also referred to as “Cleese’s woolly lemur.”

The documentary isn’t bad—you’ll definitely learn a thing or two about lemurs, and they are pretty fascinating animals. My favorite bit covers the long tails of the animals as well as the remarkable “stink fights” that lemurs will engage in—nonlethal conflicts in which the band of lemurs that produces the more offensive smell wins.

All in all, though, I wouldn’t trade it for the original 45 episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.....
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Morrissey talks to nobody on MTV, 1985
11.26.2014
06:27 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Morrissey
MTV


 
I can hardly think of a better format for a Morrissey interview than this: in 1985, MTV’s monthly weirdomusic program IRS Records Presents the Cutting Edge put him in a room alone with a camera and a pile of envelopes each containing a one-word topic, like “fashion,” “money,” “music,” and so forth. The Smiths’ vocalist simply opened the envelopes and expounded the topics given therein (and it’s a goddamn shame none of those envelopes contained the names of any bands he disliked). The results are, unsurprisingly, classic Morrissey. Would it surprise you to learn that he thinks every art form he can name is a dying art, and that the greatest art form is the one he happens to be known for? Of course it wouldn’t.

Allowing that this was probably sourced from someone’s VHS dub of the broadcast, it looks like even by 1985 standards that that was kind of a shit video camera in there with him—the whole thing has the hazy and noisy feel of old surveillance footage. The entire video was broken up into several segments and spread out through the broadcast, but what’s here just contains the edited-out Morrissey segments. Bafflingly, the beginning is labeled “Part 2,” and there’s a lot of needless overlap between the two parts. I’ve set it up to play here in the proper order without the loads of overlap. The alternative was to post a ghastly looking and sounding screen-shot video.
 

 
The rest after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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