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Mr. Bean digitally painted into historical portraits

After “Sir Thomas More” by Holbein the Younger
Rodney Pike is a caricaturist who uses the uniquely 21st Century method of using digital manipulation to wildly distort actual photographs of his subjects. He’s quite good at it, and his online portfolios attest to that skill. Recently, the excellent design blog Abduzeedo shared a recent portfolio of Pike’s wherein he inserted the great British comic actor Rowan Atkinson, famed for his character Mr. Bean, into about a dozen historical portraits. It’s extremely well done, and the effect is very funny. In fact, seeing Atkinson’s face in all the different period costumes recalls his fantastic pre-Bean BBC program Black Adder. Keep an eye out for altered details, like the pair of lace panties in one of the Holbeins, and the teddy bear in the Bronzino.

After “Meditation” by William Adolphe Bouguereau

After “Thomas Howard, third Duke of Norfolk” by Holbein the Younger

After “Self Portrait” by Rembrandt van Rijn
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Real-life ‘Rosie the Maid’ robot actually existed in England in 1966
11:54 am


The Jetsons

An entire generation of kids was brainwashed by the creative folks at Hanna-Barbera into thinking that the future would consist of treadmill sidewalks, levitating high schools in the clouds, and family-sized flying saucers for the commute. It’s hard to watch The Jetsons today and not think, “Boy, they really thought about resources differently in the 1960s.” (Actually, this radio program from the Canadian Broadcast Company argues that The Jetsons got more right than you’d suspect…. can you say Roomba?)

One of the prime objects of techno-fetishization was the Jetsons’ maid, called Rosie, who (per Wikipedia) was an outdated model but so beloved by the family that they would never think to replace her. I also didn’t realize until researching it today that most of the Jetsons episodes were made in the 1980s—in fact, Rosie appeared in only two episodes in the original 1962-1963 run and was a more frequent premise in the 1980s episodes.

Anyway, we think of that kind of robot as existing purely in the future, but a man named Dennis Weston who lived in Leeds, England, created a reasonable—and working—facsimile of Rosie almost at the same time as those original Jetsons episodes. As early as 1966, Weston created “Tinker,” a remote-controlled robot that could wash the car, weed the garden, take the baby for a stroll down the road, and go shopping. The catch was that Tinker couldn’t travel more than 200 yards of David’s garage, where he controlled Tinker through a control panel. Due to lack of space at David’s home the robot was eventually passed on to a family friend in 1974. Tinker was activated by 430 motors, and a TV camera in the robot’s head transmitted an image to the operator.

Weston died in 1995 at the age of 71. The Cybernetic Zoo blog received a message from Weston’s son Martin in 2012, according to which “Tinker was given to his Dad’s friend, Brian, in 1974 as Dennis no longer had the space available to keep it. Brian owned a shop called Leeds Radio during the 60s and 70s; he sold army surplus radio equipment. Most of the gear that went through Brian’s shop was eventually stripped down and sold off as spare parts. Unfortunately, the same thing probably happened to Tinker. ... Percy was just another one of Martin’s Dad’s 10,000 unfinished projects. It never got completed and the hand just accumulated dust under a pile of junk in Dennis’ cellar/workshop. It probably ended up being melted down for scrap.”

One of the images below states that Tinker “can be programmed to perform ‘any reasonable task.’” Given the apparent importance of user control during those tasks, it’s a little unclear what “programmed” could really mean here…...




Here’s Weston working on his follow-up to Tinker, named Percy:


Here’s an early Jetsons sampler from 1963:

via Voices of East Anglia

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘F*ck it, I quit’: Reporter quits on air after revealing she’s pot club owner!
07:45 am



This clip is great: TV reporter Charlo Greene of KTVA in Alaska, quit her job live on-air after revealing she was the founder of the AK Cannabis Club.

Via the Sydney Morning Herald:

Her announcement followed a story on the Alaska Cannabis Club, a “collective” that “connects medical marijuana cardholders in need to medical marijuana cardholders with green.”

The aptly named Ms Greene revealed at the end of the story that she was the club’s owner and, as such, was left with little choice but to leave her job.

“Now everything you heard is why I, the actual owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club, will be dedicating all of my energy for fighting for freedom and fairness which begins with legalizing marijuana here in Alaska.

“And as for this job, well, not that I have a choice but, f—- it, I quit.”

Details are scant at this point and the whole clip has yet to surface, but good for her.

UPDATE: Greene posted a video explaining what happened on YouTube:

“Who is willing to take a stand? I’m not afraid, clearly. But if you are, I don’t judge you or any other man. Nearly a century of marijuana prohibition and stigma have stained America, the land of the free and home of the brave. But we have a chance to start taking back the right. Today it’s marijuana prohibition and, once we get that done nationally, we the people will realize that we are stronger than ever and you will feel empowered to take up what you choose to fight. Advocating for freedom and fairness should be everyone’s duty. I’m making it my life work, to uphold what America stands for truly: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — ideals that now need to be defended.”

Again, good for her. Passionate. Articulate. Committed to doing the right thing. I like her style!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Secret Weapons’: David Cronenberg’s made-for-TV dystopian sci-fi biker movie, 1972
05:52 am


David Cronenberg

In 1972 David Cronenberg’s resume as a filmmaker consisted of Stereo (1969) and Crimes of the Future (1970)—both of those movies, incidentally, are available quite affordably if you order the 2-disc Fast Company DVD set. The latter title, Crimes of the Future, would also function pretty well for Secret Weapons, a 22-minute movie Cronenberg directed for the Canadian Broadcasting Company in 1972. Secret Weapons appeared on some kind of anthology show called Programme X. His friend Norman Snider wrote the script; he would work with Cronenberg again much later, on the screenplay for Dead Ringers. That’s Snider as “The Wise Man”—so IMDb has it—but in all honesty I’m not sure which character that refers to. More recent pics of Snider would make you think that Snider played the main character, but I’m just not sure.

Secret Weapons is some kind of a tossed-off dystopian movie; it’s a mite overdetermined. It cribs liberally from both Huxley and Orwell and probably Kubrick too, and its scary countercultural attitudinizing probably had the identical flavor as a lot of sci-fi of that moment. The premise is that we’re five years into the future—1977—and the United States is embroiled in a civil war. A company named General Pharmaceutics runs society—as the voiceover states, “This gigantic producer of medicines and drugs succeeded in its takeover of technology and soon after, all of society.” General Pharmaceutics has developed mind control drugs and is desirous that a talented young researcher accept their party line, but he’s far too apathetic to care either way. They send him out for some indoctrination and he meets with the leader of the only thing that passes for a resistance, some biker gangs that operate outside of organized society which are, intriguingly, headed up by a woman.

To call this a biker movie may be going too far—motorcycles are on the screen for just a few seconds. This was Cronenberg’s first movie with synced sound, and it shows. What Secret Weapons mainly is is talky, and the voiceover chimes in frequently just in case you hadn’t absorbed enough desultory chatter (actually, there are two voiceovers). Cronenberg has made so many fascinating movies that an early short about mind control can’t help but be interesting, but really my takeaway is that he had a ways to go. His first feature, Shivers, would be released three years later.

You have to admire Cronenberg for wanting to cram so many ideas into his movie, though—even if they were a bit clichéd for the era, a bit half-baked. My favorite thing in it is whatever was brushing and prodding the protagonist’s interviewer around five minutes in. We’re given the impression that the interview is happening in the same room as some committee, but we never see them, we just see objects occasionally intrude into the frame and stroke or otherwise touch the interviewer.

Did I mention this is pretty low-budget?

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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The return of the f*ckin’ Trailer Park Boys
11:32 am


Trailer Park Boys

If you haven’t heard yet, Canadian cult comedy television heros The Trailer Park Boys have returned… again. And this time it looks like they’re here to stay for a while.

That’s right, ten new episodes of Canada’s finest export (if you don’t count Molson’s Golden, Neil Young, Pamela Anderson, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Rush, Jessica Paré...). The Trailer Park Boys can now be seen in every territory within Netflix’s reach. Best of all, there’s a season beyond this one still to come in 2015. Supposedly their 2009 theatrical film Countdown to Liquor Day was meant to be their swan song, but John Paul Tremblay, Robb Wells and Mike Smith (Julian, Ricky and Bubbles) purchased the rights from the original producers. I hope they do this forever. It’s one of those things that could be sustained indefinitely.

If you haven’t heard of The Trailer Park Boys, in one sense, lucky you, because you now get to binge watch one of the greatest television comedies ever made, plus two standalone specials, two feature films and a live performance. They pump this stuff into your home like gas or electricity or… hash oil. What excuse do you have not to partake?

As I wrote on this blog last year:

One of my favorite things—literally one of my very, very favorite things in life—is the absolutely genius Canadian comedy series, The Trailer Park Boys.

It’s a masterpiece. By the time I discovered the show—obviously 99% of Canadian television never makes it south—it had already reached the end of its seven series run on the Showcase network in 2007. My wife and I “binge-watched” the entire thing in like two weeks, watching as many as five of them in a row some nights. It was comedy crack, we couldn’t get enough.

When we got to the last one, I told her that I felt like I wanted to weep. She admitted to feeling the same way. It was like we’d lost old friends. It massively sucked not to have any more episodes of The Trailer Park Boys.

Things spiraled out of control from there…

Seriously, though, a year later at about 6pm on a night that we were having a dinner party, a friend of mine wrote to ask if I’d heard about “Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys,” the Trailer Park Boys’ 2008 Christmas special. We couldn’t scoot our guests’ asses out the door fast enough!

When the new series opens, Ricky has “retired” with an enormous stash of weed hidden in the walls of his trailer and has stopped using money entirely, instead buying everything with pressed “hash coins” (which are accepted without comment by everyone). Julian has opened a strip club inside his trailer and Bubbles is about to launch his “Shed and Breakfast” business for people who are traveling with their cats (free pancakes!). White rapper J-Roc has his own brand of flavored vodka (which he describes as “the birth of Christ”). Barb, the owner of the Sunnyvale trailer park has caught her soon to be ex-husband Sam with a man and demands a divorce from this “bisexual caveman” who decides he’s going to screw her out of the Sunnyvale property which he plans to sell at a huge profit to real estate developers. The only thing standing in the way of his plan is Barb’s first bisexual ex-husband, the perpetually-soused retiring park supervisor Jim Lahey (played by the great John Dunsworth, easily THE BEST COMIC DRUNK OF ALL TIME) who owns the deciding 1% of the Sunnyvale stock.

Julian rallies Ricky and Bubbles to help raise enough money to save the park. Their plans involve hash oil, hookers and much more, but I won’t spoil it for you. We watched all of them in two sittings. My only complaint is that there weren’t more of them…

And speaking of the Trailer Park Boys, Swearnet: The Movie, the new theatrical release from John Paul Tremblay, Robb Wells and Mike Smith came out last weekend in select cities. The reviews were mostly terrible, but if you read between the lines, it seems like it would be a riot:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Man of 10,000 Sound Effects’ Michael Winslow sings Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’
09:56 am


Led Zeppelin
Michael Winslow

I posted this video of Michael Winslow on Norway’s TV show Senkveld med Thomas og Harald (“Late Night with Thomas and Harold”) singing Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” back in 2011. For whatever reason the video is starting to make the rounds again on the Internet today and I thought it was time for a revisit here, too. It’s that good! 

If you’ve never seen this one before, it’s pretty incredible to watch what Winslow can do with his voice. Known as the “Man of 10,000 Sound Effects,” I’d say he pretty much nails it.

via Open Culture

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Witness ‘Simpsons’ actor Harry Shearer’s total transformation into Richard Nixon

Between playing bassist Derek Smalls in the immortal metal spoof This is Spinal Tap and voicing dozens of characters on The Simpsons, Harry Shearer has been a key performer in two of the most oft-quoted entertainment franchises in living memory. For his latest project, however, Shearer’s the one doing the quoting. He’s re-enacting, verbatim, moments out of the presidency of the disgraced Richard M. Nixon, recasting the tragic president as a comic figure. The series, created in collaboration with Nixon scholar Stanley Kutler, is called Nixon’s the One. It already ran in the UK on Sky Arts earlier this year, and will soon be webcast weekly on YouTube’s My Damn Channel, starting on October 21st.

The scripts are taken from Nixon’s actual White House tapes—those notorious recordings that figured so heavily in the Watergate investigations that left his presidency and his legacy in utter ruins—and shot in a fly-on-the wall style that makes viewing feel like eavesdropping. A teaser was released about a week ago, in which Henry Kissinger is played by British actor Henry Goodman:

To play the former president, Shearer underwent some serious transformation—prosthetics, makeup, wig, the whole megillah, as this photo sequence attests.














Photos courtesy of Hat Trick Productions Ltd.

Terrific work, but this can’t go unsaid—is it maybe a little much? Shearer’s voice isn’t his only great gift as a performer, he has a marvelously expressive face, and it seems a shame to obscure ALL of it with latex appliqués. It strikes me that he could have made a better-than-credible Nixon just with the addition of a nose and some jowls. One possible reason for the full-face prosthetics could have been to DE-age the actor—this surprised the shit out of me when I looked it up, but Shearer is 70 years of age. Nixon, in the time period being recreated, was around 60.

About a month ago, to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of Nixon’s resignation, Shearer released a similar verbatim re-creation of the unsettlingly awkward moments leading up to Nixon’s resignation speech. I’ve included the actual historic footage for comparison. The way Nixon tries to casually goof around with the news crew makes him seem more like your embarrassing perma-bachelor uncle trying to flirt with a waitress than the leader of the free world about to abandon his career in the face of nearly unanimous public contempt. Shearer’s take on that massively uncomfortable frisson works quite well as cringe comedy.


Previously on Dangerous Minds
White House memo suggests Nixon ‘neutralize’ Johnny Cash, 1970
Wasted Richard Nixon talks, slurs his words to Ronald Reagan on the telephone, 1973
Reefer man: Did Louis Armstrong turn Richard Nixon into his drug mule?
Let Nixon play Nixon: Listen to tricky dick tickle the ivories, on a composition by Richard Nixon

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Awesome ‘Rockford Files’ diorama available on eBay
08:43 am


James Garner
The Rockford Files

How incredible was the charm of James Garner? This is true: When I was a kid in the 1970s, my parents watched zero prime time TV programming, none; they were way too snobby for that, they looked down on TV. Back then there wasn’t anything good on TV, it would be said just constantly that TV was a cultural wasteland and there was nothing good on it. But such was the unsurpassed, easygoing likeability of James Garner that my parents did watch The Rockford Files. I’d be put to bed, and before nodding off I’d hear, from the next room over, that infectious theme song.......

Garner passed away in July, which makes this an excellent moment to indulge in this incredible diorama of Jim Rockford’s beachfront trailer situation, available on eBay. An enterprising Minnesotan put his or her blood, sweat, and tears into this beauty, and it can be all yours for ... well, we’ll see how much when the auction ends in a few days.

User toastiecoastie writes:

This is an HO scale diorama of the famous tv series The Rockford Files.The base is 12x12 inches.None of the details are attached to the base other than the rocks and foliage. This way you can set up the diorama any way you wish. All the details that you see in the photos are included. All is scratch built. The vehicles have been modified to represent those in the show. The figures are easily detached from their base as they are hobby tacked down.

I wonder if this diorama would be less alluring to me if I lived in Los Angeles…. the romance of a crappy trailer on the beach, it’s powerful stuff.





Here’s a supercut of all of the answering machine messages from the credits of Season 1:

via Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘Kenneth Anger: Film as Magical Ritual’: Jaw-dropping German TV doc from 1970
03:06 pm


Kenneth Anger


“Magick is action. Mysticism is a withdrawal from action”

If you’re a Kenneth Anger fan, be prepared to be seriously blown away by this astonishing German television documentary from 1970 that shows the master at work on Lucifer Rising. It’s fun to ponder, as you watch, what the average German must have thought about this film, which doesn’t flinch from presenting some of the most outrageous ideas and imagery ever to be broadcast to an entire (unsuspecting) nation. It’s magnificently freaky stuff.

Not only would this have been the first look the world would get of Anger’s magnum opus (which he is seen shooting Méliès-style in a tiny space) there are substantial excerpts from Fireworks, Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, Rabbit’s Moon, Puce Moment, and Invocation of My Demon Brother, which showed hash smoking (and cocks!) on TV. It’s impossible to imagine something like this ever getting on television in America 44 years ago, but I don’t think the BBC would have touched something this insane at the time, either.

As filmmaker Reinhold E. Thiel admits in his voiceover, it was Anger directing himself that they got on film. As he states, Anger really wasn’t that into allowing them to film him in the first place, but when he did relent it was on his terms. Anger’s interview segments were shot as he sat behind a makeshift altar, lit in magenta and inside of the magical “war gods” circle seen at the end of the film.

Of special note is we see Anger flipping through his “Puce Women” sketchbook (he’s an excellent illustrator) of his unmade tribute to the female archetypes of Hollywood’s golden era and the architecture of movie star homes (This notebook was on display at the Anger exhibit at MOCA in Los Angeles). Anger is also seen here shooting scenes with his Lucifer, Leslie Huggins (both interior shots in Anger’s makeshift studio and among the stones at Avebury) and with the adept in the war gods circle. Oddly, we can hear what the adept is saying (“Haven’t I seen you somewhere before?”) whereas in the final film he just seems to be muttering something mysterious when Lucifer appears.

Anger discusses his Aleister Crowley-inspired theories of art: How he views his camera like a wand and how he casts his films, preferring to consider his actors, not human beings but as elemental spirits. In fact, he reveals that he goes so far as to use astrology when making these choices.

This is as direct an explanation of Anger’s cinemagical modus operandi as I have ever heard him articulate anywhere. It’s a must see for anyone interested in his work and showcases the Magus of cinema at the very height of his artistic powers. Fascinating.

Thank you Spencer Kansa, author of Wormwood Star: The Magickal Life of Marjorie Cameron

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Something to offend everyone: New Iraqi comedy show has Devil and a Jew giving birth to ISIS
12:10 pm


The Superstitious State

A promo for a new Iraqi satirical TV comedy shows the Devil (in red onesie with pointy a tail) and a Jewish woman (that would be her sporting the tiara and the overlarge Star of David) coming together to spawn an egg from which hatches looney tunes ISIS party leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, mockingly referred to as the “ISIS-ling.”

The promo for the new series The Superstitious State was posted online by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which described the video as having been broadcast on Al-Iraqiyya TV on September 9th and several more times since.

The title is a play on the words “khilafa” (“caliphate”) and “khirafa” (“superstition”). There are also characters based on Dracula, The Joker, a root’em toot’em Yankee cowboy, one who is apparently supposed to be Joseph Stalin and one based on Sheikha Mozah, the fashion plate wife of the former Emir of Qatar.
Before we assume too much about the aims of this satire, it’s worth noting that Arab news channels are spreading the conspiracy theory that claims ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is a Jewish Mossad agent known as Simon Elliot, which might be what they’re getting at: Of course it can all be blamed on the Jews (and John McCain!) Via Shalom Life:

Last week, former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro penned an editorial published in the country’s primary media outlet, claiming that Mossad, Israel’s central intelligence agency, and American senator John McCain conspired together to create the Islamic State.

A Dutch minister, Yasmina Haifi, was also suspended after tweeting that the “Zionists” created ISIS, echoing the sentiments of Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, the Palestinian Authority’s official publication, which basically argued the same notion.

Mohseen Rezaee, a former Iranian military commander, following in line with Castro’s comments, also blamed the birth of ISIS on Mossad, saying that the Zionists are trying to eliminate Islam by making Muslims kill one another. Iraqi Ayatollah Sayed Mortada Al-Qazwini claimed that ISIS is “a Jewish Israeli organization, established to tear apart the land of Muslims.”

“What’s the point?” I hear you ask.. well, who knows? It seems all will be revealed in later episodes. But in answer to any questions over whether this satirical show will have any influence one way or the other, we should recall what the great Peter Cook once said about “those wonderful Berlin cabarets… which did so much to stop the rise of Hitler and prevent the outbreak of the Second World War.”

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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