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‘Stranger Things’ on VHS is exactly where it belongs
08.08.2016
04:40 pm

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Pop Culture
Television

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The mysterious Steelberg has been re-imagining newly released movies as VHS tapes that you would have rented from your local video store when video stores were everywhere. Housed in beat up cases with torn plastic slip jackets, curling price tags, staff recommendations and various other battered stickers (Beta!), Steelberg replicates the real thing to an eerie degree.

Stranger Things is particularly effective for the very reason that it’s an homage to those 80s movies that packed the shelves of Blockbusters back in the days when you could be kind by simply rewinding. This is what we’re talking about when we talk about form following content.

More after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Doctor Who reimagined as Penguin Books
08.08.2016
08:50 am

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Books
Television

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Well this is nice. The world’s longest-running science-fiction series Doctor Who reimagined as retro Penguin books from the 1960s-1980s.

I do like Penguin books. They are the acme of paperback fiction. And while I may have an apartment already crammed wall to wall and floor to ceiling with way too many books, I know I could just about find enough space for a few of these.

The covers are designed by Sean Coleman at notebooks from Coleman Designs. A small selection of these vintage designs are available to buy as notebooks.

While there are literally dozens of real Doctor Who novelizations—some even published by Penguin—none are quite as stylish or as desirable as these beauties. Check out more Doctor Who book designs here.
 
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More classic Penguin-style designs, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
This completely unnecessary ‘Stranger Things’ / ‘Perfect Strangers’ mashup
08.04.2016
02:25 pm

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Television

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“Don’ be redikulos.”
 
Here’s the Internet doing what the Internet does.

So, if you’re like me, your entire social media newsfeed is blowing up with people going absolutely apeshit over Stranger Things. Everyone loves the nostalgic 80s throwback and its cold synthy score. Word has it that the popular series has been picked up for a second season.

For all you fans on that 80s nostalgia kick, MondialCreative has produced a completely unnecessary, yet totally awesome mashup of the Stranger Things opening with scenes from the hit sitcom Perfect Strangers.

Perfect Stranger Things—GET IT?

Anyway, this is actually rather well done. Dumb, but dumb well done.
 

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Jeremy Irons, children’s TV presenter?
08.03.2016
09:41 am

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Amusing
Television

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Jeremy Irons is one of the great screen actors. A multi-award winning star of Brideshead Revisited, The Mission, Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers (above), Die Hard 2 and of course more recently a scheming Pope in The Borgias.

But once upon a time, long, long before this all happened, Mr. Irons was a very popular presenter on a BBC children’s series called Play Away.

Play Away was the sister show to another daytime kids series called Play School. Play Away was the weekend edition—a kind of Saturday supplement. Both shows were aimed at pre-school and junior school kids with the noble intention of encouraging interest in reading, writing and role playing. It was like Sesame Street without the Muppets or The New Zoo Revue starring just Doug and Emmy Jo.

The format centered on three presenters (usually led by the likeable Brian Cant) who sang songs, told stories and played the same kind of games kids did in the yard. Irons was one of the regular co-hosts. He appeared on the same roster as a number of other young actors and actresses. Most notably Tony Robinson—better known to millions as Baldrick in Blackadder; and Julie Covington—the original Janet Weiss in The Rocky Horror Show stage play, star of TV series Rock Follies and hit singer of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.”

With no multi-channels or 24-hour scheduling, kids TV in 1970’s UK was kept within strict time zones—early morning and then late afternoon. The dearth of suitable entertainment meant shows like Play Away attracted kids of all ages and quite a few hungover university students too. I know because I was one of the older school kids who tuned in.

Play Away was a refreshing twenty-five minutes oasis in the grey Saturday schedule of sports and war movies. I do recall Mr. Irons. He seemed very earnest, like an older brother trying to impress the grownups at a party. But still, he was fun. And proof—if ever it was needed—of the truth in the words of Dorothy Fields’ showstopper: “It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish. It’s not how you go, it’s how you land…”
 
See Jeremy Irons on ‘Play Away’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Snake Oil: Use some ‘Blood of Jesus Anointing Oil’ and you too will stop seeing snakes!
08.02.2016
01:49 pm

Topics:
Belief
Idiocracy
Kooks
Television

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(Clears throat)

“In 1972 God spoke to Rev. Woody Martin and told him to lay hands on the building that is now Victory Temple Worship Center, a center of signs, wonders, and miracles following the spoken Word of God.”

So spaketh the poorly-designed website for Rev. Martin’s Bible Deliverance Ministry, located in the town of Lenoir City, Tennessee. It goes on to inform the reader that:

In his first service, God opened the blind eyes of an eight-year-old girl by the “laying on of hands.” Victory Temple is a Bible-believing Pentecostal Deliverance Church where expectations are met through Christ. Thousands have come to Jesus through anointed radio broadcast, publications, television, and miracle crusades. Precious souls have been delivered and set free by the power of God.

Rev. Woody (who also is known as “Prophet Martin” for reasons that are unclear) has another method of achieving unspecified Jesus-related goals and stuff and that is his “The Blood of Jesus Anointing Oil.”

Despite the apparently pedigreed name, “The Blood of Jesus Anointing Oil” is just regular olive oil and red food coloring. Prophet Martin admits to such in the description.

“It is regular olive oil which represents the Holy Spirit and a special coloring to make it look red thus we call it “The Blood of Jesus Anointing Oil.” There is no virtue or healing in this oil, it is a point-of-contact and an act-of-faith.”

You see, for it to work, you only have to believe! (And if it doesn’t work then obviously you are not believing HARD ENOUGH.)

“The Bible says in Mark 6:13, “And they cast out many devils, and ANOINTED with oil many that were sick, and Healed them!” Jesus’ disciples used this unusual ministry to bring healing and deliverance to the sick and oppressed. They would anoint them with a little oil that God had blessed by His Holy Spirit. The oil alone had no power, but when saturated by prayer, it became the Holy Spirit’s point of power for bringing deliverance to people.”

It’s not like he and his wife can legally be, you know, accused of cheating anyone with such an honest description, right? And if it works, then it works, right? Who am I to shit on an old couple’s hobby? Besides that, the first vial is free for the asking. (They also got “healing” DVDs, Rev. Woody’s music, ways to lose weight through the Lord, all kinds of stuff, in the online store.)

Some of the many uses for Mr. and Mrs. Woody Martin’s “The Blood of Jesus Anointing Oil” are the warding off of witchcraft, protection from the evil eye, reversing bad luck and the effects of evil hoodoos, leprachauns and so forth. But it’s also good for the removal of snakes.

You heard me right: The removal of snakes. Apparently this shit works great for that. Listen to the testimonial below and praise Jesus!
 

Above, Mrs. Woody Martin proudly reads a letter from one of their satisfied “Blood of Jesus Anointing Oil” customers! Use this oil and you, too, will stop seeing snakes!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Truly Post-Punk: Suzanne Somers meets Wire on ‘The Late Show,’ 1987
08.02.2016
12:53 pm

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Amusing
Music
Television

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Here’s a clip of Suzanne Somers guest hosting The Late Show (subbing for Joan Rivers after she was fired) in 1987.

The musical guests that night? Wire.

Suzanne Somers: “You’re sorta a far-out kinda group, you know?”

Bruce Gilbert: “Ummm, I doubt it.”

Watch the whole thing. The short interview at the end is, er, awkward to say the least.

 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Wonderful ‘Twin Peaks’ mid-century style matchbook covers
08.02.2016
09:10 am

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Art
Television

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Brisbane-based illustrator/designer Steven Rhodes can handle an impressive diversity of styles, but as I perused his portfolio, the quirk in his oeuvre that struck my fancy the most was his truly impressive gift for recreating the distinctive look of cheap mid-century print graphics. He used that talent to wonderful effect in a new set of prints, available from Society 6, in which he imagines matchbook covers for locations in David Lynch’s cult TV series Twin Peaks. I wish he’d actually have matchbooks made—I’d definitely get a set! That said, while the diner, gas station, casino et al all seem like businesses that might have custom matchbooks, I question whether the sheriff’s department and the mill would have them. But it’s hard to quibble too much when it’s all in fun, and the sawmill cover is actually pretty great.

Welcome to Twin Peaks debuted them earlier this summer, and Rhodes explained what attracted him to the project:

“Twin Peaks has always evoked a sense of nostalgia. There’s an innocent 1950’s aesthetic to the town that contrasts so well with the darkness beneath. It was important that the artwork felt as authentic as possible to the mid-century era.”

 

 

 
More matchbooks, after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’ gets vintage cover from pulp master Robert E. McGinnis
07.28.2016
03:45 pm

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Art
Books
Television

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TV fans are already lamenting the impending resolution of Game of Thrones likely to arrive in 2018 with a shortened 8th season, and so the chase for a suitably addictive replacement has been underway for some time now. Right now the heir apparent to take over that hole in our hearts is, without question the Starz adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

For those wondering how you can get roughly 60 episodes of TV mega-narrative out of a brisk 465 pages (brisk next to George R.R. Martin’s projected five doorstops, anyway) will be relieved to hear that Gaiman will permit Starz to draw from the book’s companion novel Anansi Boys as well. Bryan Fuller, recently of Hannibal and Pushing Daisies, will be the showrunner for the series with writer Michael Green.

Yesterday Gaiman took to his blog to tell readers about a development of no small excitement for the writer. Gaiman explained that he was waxing wistful with his HarperCollins editor about the fantastic painted paperback covers of pulp novels from the mid-century era and wondered if HarperCollins might be willing to release a set of paperbacks with new covers in that style. The answer, he learned, is yes.

Gaiman has long admired the covers of Robert E. McGinnis, best known for the posters for Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Diamonds Are Forever as well as the covers of literally hundreds of crime novels from the postwar years, but had supposed that anyone whose heyday was so long ago must surely be dead or at least retired. It turns out that his hero was not only alive (he recently turned 90) and is “pretty much” retired but not very long ago was still churning out terrific covers for the Hard Case Crime imprint.
 

 
McGinnis agreed to do the covers for the forthcoming HarperCollins series, and the first cover to see the light of day is for Gaiman’s American Gods, of which, due to the increased media attention due to news of the impending Starz series, the publishers currently have hardly any copies in stock to sell. Thus the need for a new edition, which will have the gorgeous new McGinnis cover seen below.

As Gaiman points out, there is a recent coffee table book celebrating the alluring cover artist under the title The Art of Robert E. McGinnis.
 

 

 
Lots more McGinnis art after the jump, including the new cover for ‘American Gods’

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Marxism: Highlights from Groucho’s FBI file
07.27.2016
12:06 pm

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Crime
Movies
Politics
Television

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The other day I was refreshing my memory on Groucho’s LSD escapade with Paul Krassner, when it occurred to me that it might be beneficial to see if the FBI ever had a file on Groucho.

Of course they did, and it’s available for anyone to look at, heavily redacted of course. The Xerox machines at the FBI a few decades ago were super shitty (a feature not a bug?) so a lot of the pages you can’t make out a damn thing, but other sections are perfectly legible.

If you know anything about J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, the contents here aren’t too surprising—they were mainly worried that Groucho might be a Commie (if not a Marxist) in the early to mid-1950s. There are countless (redacted) reports to the effect that Groucho had a lot of pro-Communist sympathies but was almost certainly not an actual party member. (I guess the G-men already knew that he’d refuse to join any club that would have him as a member?)  There are some interesting references to a quotation of Groucho’s that appeared in the Daily Worker in 1934 that went “The battle of the Communists for the lives of these boys is one that will be taught in Soviet America as the most inspiring and courageous battle ever fought.”

Keep in mind that in 1934 Hitler was running Germany but not yet regarded as an obvious scourge to be eliminated. Still his anti-Jewish sentiments were clear enough. As a well-informed Jewish American it would be weird if Groucho hadn’t gotten interested in Communism around then. Plus for similar reasons the mid-1930s was a high-water mark for leftist and/or pro-Soviet feeling, especially once the Spanish Civil War got going in 1936. A lot of people who weren’t all that political got into trouble later for things they did (and thought) before WWII.

There’s also some business about Groucho and Chico being found guilty in a copyright infringement case in 1937 and having to pay a $1,000 fine.

For some reason Groucho (né Julius) is invariably referred to as “GRAUCHO MARX.” Once we reach the 1960s he is referred to as “Groucho.” I don’t know what’s up with that. In the summary sections of the file there is some background about how musically talented Groucho and his brothers are—the musical talents of Harpo and Chico are well known, but the file also, intriguingly, says this: “GRAUCHO MARX is rated as one of the best guitar players in the country.”

Did any of you know that?? So Groucho Marx, was, in a sense (at least according to his FBI file) a peer of Charlie Christian, Jimi Hendrix, and Eddie Van Halen? Well, maybe, maybe not.

There’s some business I don’t understand from 1957 about someone trying to “extort” Groucho. I can’t tell if it’s just a weird piece of fan mail that was referred to the FBI that they were obliged to look into or something more serious. On that page there is this chilling passage:
 

The death threat letter sent to GROUCHO MARX from ELVIS PRESLEY fanatics from Brooklyn stating that GROUCHO wouldn’t live through the holidays, might seem ridiculous if it weren’t such a serious offense to send such a threat through the mails.


 
Much more from the Groucho file, after the jump…....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
See Frank Zappa on ‘The Monkees’ for the first time in HD!
07.22.2016
09:21 am

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Music
Television

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Episode #57 of The Monkees saw two of the most “out there” moments of the entire series flanking one of their less memorable escapades—Peter has his mind taken over by an evil hypnotist he visits to get over his writer’s block—and we’ve got an exclusive HD version of that show premiering here for the very first time, an appetizer from the new Blu-ray box set of The Monkees (available only from their official website).

“The Monkees Blow Their Minds,” which aired originally on March 11, 1968 was the next to last show before The Monkees was cancelled. The principals wanted to take the show in a new direction creatively and NBC wasn’t into that. This might explain how viewers came to see the surreal—certainly unexpected—sight of Frank Zappa (playing “Mike Nesmith” in a wool cap) and Mike Nesmith (playing Zappa with wig, rubber nose and false beard) beating the shit out of an old car. Zappa as “Mike” wields a sledgehammer while Nesmith “conducts” and we hear a snippet of Zappa’s “Mother People.” By the standards of 1968—or any year since when you get right down to it—it was a distinctly odd thing to see on television. If you’re forced to bow out, why not go out with a cacophonous bang?
 
Watch “The Monkees Blow Their Minds” in glorious HD for the first time, after the jump..

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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